The future of water mills
The Flemish Government has made numerous efforts during the last decades to provide clean surface water. Collectors have been installed to gather waste water and transport it to purification plants. In practice however, this means that a lot of water mills have seen their flow rate reduced, which is especially true on smaller brooks. A partial solution is to separate rainfall from waste water by using individual collectors, so that more rainfall flows back into the brooks.
An additional problem is the dense construction and hardening of the soil caused by the extensive road network in this region of Belgium. Rainwater normally penetrates the soil and then gradually flows into the brooks when the soil is saturated. Dense construction however means that rainwater flows directly into the watercourses, which results in sudden increases of the water level and floods. It is sad that water mills are usually pointed out as troublesome obstacles which should disappear, whereas the origin of the problem lies elsewhere.