The legislator provides for a special protection for those areas where groundwater is extracted for the subsequent production of drinking water. This protection makes it possible to ensure the quality of the groundwater, so that the necessary water treatment can be kept to an acceptable minimum. The three protection zones provided for in the law, are laid down by decree of the Flemish Minister for the Environment.

Protection zonesWater catchment area is defined as the zone with buildings and installations, designed for groundwater extraction and collection.

3 protection zones

The 3 protection zones that are designated around the water catchment area, are:

  • Zone I: the zone around the water catchment area where the water can reach the water catchment area within a period of 24 hours. This zone is therefore also known as the 24 hour zone.
  • Zone II: the zone from where the water can reach the wells of the water catchment area in less than 60 days (maximum 300 m). This zone is also known as the bacteriological zone.
  • Zone III: the feeding area of the groundwater abstraction (maximum 2 km). This zone is also known as the chemical zone.

The water catchment area and the area corresponding to zone I are the property of De Watergroep.

The operations and activities that are allowed within the protection zones are listed in the decree of the Government of Flanders of 27 March 1985.  The environmental legislation, VLAREM and VLAREBO, and the Fertiliser Decree also contain provisions on what is and what is not allowed within the designated protection zones. Obviously, more rigorous measures apply in zone II, which is closer to the actual extraction, than in zone II.

2 different signs are used to designate the protected water catchment areas. The blue sign with water waves and the mention "drinking water protection zone" indicates that you are entering the protection zone. The same sign with a red diagonal line indicates that you are leaving the designated zone.

De Watergroep has added a sign at the bottom with the telephone number where any contaminations can be reported.

The signs are posted at the outer boundary of the protected water catchment area.