Gelderland province (NL) will participate on innovative water roundabout for paper mills in Eerbeek

A circular water system is to be created for the paper industry, eliminating the need for groundwater abstraction. Paper mills from Eerbeek and Loenen, together with the province of Gelderland, the municipality of Brummen and the Vallei and Veluwe water board will work together on this in the near future. If the project succeeds, 3.6 million m3 of well water could be saved annually. Folding Boxboard Eerbeek is one of the founders of the Eerbeek wastewater treatment plant and will also actively participate in this project. It offers an enormous opportunity to reduce groundwater consumption very substantially and thus contributes to our sustainability goals.

Drought and groundwater level

In recent summers, prolonged drought and a drop in the groundwater level caused increasing problems in Gelderland. The province of Gelderland therefore wants to limit groundwater withdrawals to save water and protect the environment. This is particularly necessary on the Veluwe.

Water roundabout

Paper mills need a lot of water to produce cardboard and paper. Traditionally, groundwater is extracted for this purpose. To increase sustainability and ensure sufficient water supply in the future, the mills have been working together for some time on an innovative circular water system that eliminates the need to extract groundwater for the daily production process. Only in emergencies will water still have to be extracted.

‘Importance of this project is huge’

At the request of the paper mills involved, the province will now cooperate with the municipality of Brummen and the Vallei and Veluwe Water Board in the realisation of the water roundabout. “The importance of this project in tackling drought is enormous,” said deputy Jan Markink. “If it succeeds, we can save 3.6 million m3 of well water annually. That is equivalent to 22,000 households.”

Pilot to start in 2023

A project team from the paper mills started an exploration of the technical and financial feasibility of the water roundabout earlier this year. A pilot will start next year. The aim is to be operational by 2030 at the latest.

Participating mills are besides Folding Boxboard Eerbeek, Neenah Coldenhove, DJP De Hoop from Eerbeek and Smart Packaging Solutions from Loenen. Incidentally, in recent years much has already been done by the paper mills in Eerbeek to reduce their groundwater withdrawals. Currently, 30% of the water is reused.

Business climate, liveability and sustainability

The Water Roundabout will now be included in Eerbeek Loenen 2030. In this programme, the municipality of Brummen, Industriekern Eerbeek Loenen (IKEL), the Vallei Water Board and the province of Gelderland work together on business climate, liveability and sustainability.

Soon, the partners will sign a cooperation agreement. This is a follow-up to the agreement of intent signed in 2018. The new agreement includes a fixed implementation agenda and targets are more focused on current issues such as dehydration. Provincial Executive approved the new cooperation agreement and support for the Water Roundabout today.

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