Select Page

“The river Woluwe starts with every drop of water that falls in the catchment area,” explains project coordinator Margot De Groote. “However, more than half of the rainwater disappears out of the landscape here via underground pipes. The soil dries out, the level in the waterways is too low in summer time and nature receives too little water. We must restore the natural water system of the Woluwe Valley.

Canal plan

That is why the municipalities of Machelen, Wezembeek-Oppem and Brussels airport Municipality Zaventem are getting started, together with the interested Regional Landscape office under the coordination of the Strategic Project Leve(n)de Woluwe (=(Long) living Woluwe). After the construction of three erosion ponds, Zaventem took the initiative for a canal plan,” says Zaventem’s alderman for Spatial Planning and Land Policy Bart Dewandeleer (CD&V). “We are happy that our neighboring municipalities are jumping on the bandwagon to soften concrete canals as much as possible. This allows the water to infiltrate better and drain more slowly into the streams. A second spearhead is the depaving of an old car park in Sint-Stevens-Woluwe, in the area where we have already returned two football fields to nature and wooded them.”

According to data from 2018, no less than 51.3 percent of the municipality in Machelen is paved. Only 18.8 percent of the space is forest, arable land, grassland or shrubs. Paving on that scale leads to more heat stress, flooding and desiccation.

Blue Deal subsidies

If we want to make Machelen a liveable municipality in the future, the local government must seize all opportunities,” says Machelen’s Alderman of the Environment Magda Geeroms (N-VA). “Together with the Flemish Land Agency, we will depave and landscape the parts of the Leuvensesteenweg, Boskantweg, Koningin Astridlaan, Zwaluwstraat and Heirbaan that are not used by residents. We want to draw a green-blue axis through Machelen.”

A total of five thousand square meters will be depaved and thirteen kilometers of canals will be optimized in the municipalities of Machelen, Zaventem and Wezembeek-Oppem. The Environment Department of the Flemish government is providing 871,634 euros in Blue Deal subsidies to projects in the three municipalities through the Local Area Deal Drought 2.0.

Softening, water retention and infiltration will make this water system healthy and resilient again,” concludes Mayor Frédéric Petit (LB-Union) of Wezembeek-Oppem.!preferred/0/package/1183/pub/3437/page/60