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March 18, 2019

In addition to the provincial council elections, the water boards will also be elected on 20 March 2019. Then you can choose which party you think can make decisions about what happens to the water in your area. Think of the quality of water in recreational areas, the treatment of your waste water and solutions for rising sea levels. But what does your voice really do? Together with the Vechtstromen Water Board, Energiefonds Overijssel is making a project possible to generate sustainable energy through water purification. Based on this project, we show what a water board does and what that means for you.

What do the Water Boards mean for citizens in Overijssel?
When you drive onto the site of the Hengelo sewage treatment plant of Waterschap Vechtstromen, a James Bond-like scene immediately plays in your head because of the enormous infrastructure that is there. We are surrounded by large concrete structures and three steep, black egg-shaped digesters with a connecting bridge at the top. The concrete bins are filled with waste water to which bacteria have been added, so that it is purified biologically. As soon as the dirty water has been sufficiently purified, the sludge is separated from the clean water. The water is now clean enough to be returned to nature in ditches, brooks and canals, for example. For example, the water board ensures clean surface water so that we can, for example, recreate and animals and plants can live well in it.

A few years ago, the Vechtstromen Water Board started making their activities more sustainable and enlisted the help of Energiefonds Overijssel. Our focus on sustainable energy alternatives and energy saving contributes to the “Energy Factory” project, in which the remaining sludge is digested in the three egg-shaped installations. The sludge goes in, is heated, resulting in the production of biogas plus a little bit of sludge that remains. The biogas that is generated is converted into electricity via a cogeneration installation (CHP installation), and then this electricity is partly used by the Energy Factory itself. The electricity surplus is sufficient for the energy supply of 3,500 households and is supplied to the grid. In this way, waste water is optimally used and the consumption of electricity comes from a sustainable source. The advantages of this are, firstly, the use of sustainably generated energy by the water board and households, secondly, a major cost saving for the water board because their energy bill goes down, and lower processing costs because you have less sludge at the end of the journey. For the inhabitants of Overijssel, this means, in addition to making their water board more sustainable, that it also remains financially healthy, which can have a positive effect on the annual water board tax rates. It is also a good step on the way to the province's ambition to obtain 20% of energy from sustainable sources by 2023 and to achieve 6% energy savings.

Can the water board make it even more sustainable?
The Energy Factory shows that the activities of a water board provide a more pleasant living environment and that we also continue to work in this way on making the province more sustainable. In addition, it can bring financial benefits for the inhabitants of Overijssel and for the water board itself. The Vechtstromen water board had to make investments for this new installation and because it concerns making energy more sustainable, Energiefonds Overijssel provided a loan of € 15 million. Now that phase 1 of the project has been successfully completed and the installation is delivering the performance that was predicted, a second phase can be started. Much more sludge will be brought locally from the region to this installation for processing, so that even more sustainable energy can be generated and less sludge will have to be processed as a residual product.

In addition, the Vechtstromen Water Board is busy realizing 7.2 hectares (that is an area as large as more than 12 football fields) of solar panels on the site of their water treatment plants. In this way, they are taking another step towards their goal of generating 40% of their own energy consumption sustainably by 2020. However, in order to actually realize these types of projects, the board of the water board will have to approve this and such a decision can influence citizens by using their vote in the upcoming water board elections, for example.

What does your vote mean?
The general management of a water board consists of representatives of residents, farmers, companies and managers of nature areas. The general board determines the policy of a water board and checks whether the day-to-day management implements it properly. The composition consists of 27 members, the majority of whom are residents of the province where the water board is located. During the water board elections, you can therefore choose a representative who represents your interests in the general board; often these candidates are members of a political party. The other members are not elected through elections. Since residents make up the majority of the general government, your vote can definitely make a difference!

View on the website of the Vechtstromen Water Board during water board elections to determine what kind of “water type” you are, to find out what is going on in your water region, and who you can vote for and what their views are.

About Energiefonds Overijssel
Financing the energy transition, that is what we do at Energiefonds Overijssel. In the first place to contribute to 20 percent of new energy by 2023 in Overijssel, and ultimately to enable the energy transition in the province. The fund is the first and largest regional energy fund in the Netherlands, founded in 2012 by the province of Overijssel. We have now provided more than 200 million euros in financing for sustainable and new energy projects in the province. Varying from making homes and commercial real estate, biogas plants and solar roofs / parks more sustainable, to innovations such as the production of pyrolysis oil as an alternative green fuel. The De Energiefabriek project is one of these projects. Read more about the Overijssel Energy Fund here.

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