“We see a number of things coming our way in the coming years that we need to respond to,” Bonhof tells RTL Z. The Dutch population is growing, so more water users will be added and until recently there was economic growth. That also ultimately creates more demand for water.
Clean and available
That water has to be clean and available, and that’s a lot of work, she says. “For example, we find more and more substances in our water that do not belong in it. We remove them.”
Add climate change to that: drier summers and wetter winters. “That requires adjustments,” says Bonhof. It must be checked whether the installations are still in the right places. We are also working on collecting and retaining water. “We can infiltrate it into the ground to replenish the groundwater and use it again later.”
Money is also needed to secure Vitens’ computer systems. “This mainly concerns our production locations and, for example, the pumps. We can control them remotely, but we also have to keep them safe against cyber criminals.”
Finally, Bonhof mentions the water pipes: part of it is just after the Second World War and is gradually being replaced. “Our investment needs are growing. We would like to finance it ourselves as a company, but we cannot.”
Vitens should not make too much profit
Here’s the thing: Vitens is a monopolist when it comes to the water supply in the areas where it operates. Therefore, the government’s business is not allowed to make too much profit. “The rates that we charge for water can only rise slightly. That is why we have to borrow money to be able to make sufficient investments,” says Bonhof.
Vitens borrows the money from various banks, according to the director there is enough money to do what is necessary to keep drinking water clean and available. She does, however, call the rate limitation a major obstacle to the functioning of her company. “We cannot borrow too much either, because that is a risk to our financial health.”
Bonhof calls for the rules for the rates to be relaxed so that they can go up a little bit. This means that water becomes more expensive for the consumer. “But it remains affordable,” says Bonhof. She wants to guarantee that by making adjustments now.
“Vitens supplies the cheapest drinking water in the Netherlands and we aim for the lowest possible operational costs.” Still, more money is needed, because the investment need is greater than the savings that can be achieved with this, says Bonhof.
It takes a lot
According to the driver, not everyone realizes how much is actually needed for clean drinking water. People can also contribute to this: we must be careful with and on our water.
“We are of course not entirely in control of the climate,” says Bonhof. “But we can do a lot in the Netherlands. We have to invest in that.”