Luxembourgh Times

Too much rain too fast was fruitless for reserves

Torrential rains last week will do little to replenish underground aquifers because plants hold onto water

Some of the damage caused by flooding after torrential rains last week.

Some of the damage caused by flooding after torrential rains last week. © Photo credit: Anouk Antony

Julie Éddé

by Patrick Jacquemot and Julie Edde

The heavy rainfall last week will not replenish the country's underground drinking water reserves because the summer growing season means too little will trickle down to where it's collected, authorities said. The flood-causing precipitation came at the wrong time to alleviate the diminishing level of groundwater caused by a succession of winters with far too low rainfall. About a half to two-thirds of the country's drinking water comes from underwater aquifers, Water Management Administration Director Jean-Paul Lickes told Luxembourg Times last October.

"For refilling of groundwater, this episode will have been pointless," said Brigitte Lambert, who heads the Water Management Administration's groundwater division. "Water reserves are only replenished when the vegetation no longer grows and stops absorbing, from about mid-October to the end of April. "

Frequent mild showers, spread over time, or melting snow are more suited to replenish the drinking water reserves. Luxembourg insurance companies might need to pay up to €50 million in flood claims after many parts of the country became inundated following torrential rains last week, the Luxembourg Insurance and Reinsurance Association (ACA) told the Luxembourg Times.

The government of Prime Minister Xavier Bettel pledged another €50 million in assistance to flood victims. Authorities are monitoring water levels in 18 points across the country.

The flooding as rivers and streams overflowed was also caused by the ground already being soaked after a spring of frequent rain, Lambert.

"Since we had a rather wet late spring, these powerful showers fell on soil already saturated with water (and) less capable of absorbing the slightest drop", she said.