In the Region of Wallonia the climate is temperate and the amount of water that falls is relatively abundant: rainfall amounts to about 700 - 1000 mm per year on average. Wallonia is a very green area therefore where there is no lack of water.


Over the centuries water has been used here for developing the economic activity of the region.

As far back as the 16th century, the industry of Wallonia used hydraulic energy, namely for the different stages in the manufacture of iron for driving the bellows of the tall furnaces, fuelled at the time by coal.

Hydraulic energy was also used for driving rolling mills, the machinery for manufacturing armaments and tools as well as in sawmills, grain mills and wine presses.


Engineers learned how to estimate the slopes and the drops, to build locks and storage basins. Canals were dug in order to facilitate the transport of merchandise.

In the 17th century, the engineers from Liège built the first hydraulic pumps that allowed them to pump water. One example is the Modave pump, which pumped water from the river Meuse in order to provide the water supplies and the water for the fountains. The most famous pump remains the Marly pump, built between 1681 and 1684 by the Walloon, Renkin Sualem, in order to supply the Château de Versailles, the gardens and the fountains with water. It was considered at the time to be the 8th wonder of the world and was the symbol of the expertise of the Walloon engineers.

The updating of these water pumping techniques led to the generalisation of the pumping out, which mean that mines and quarries could be worked.

Water supply to the population finally arrived in the 17th century in the form of the public fountains. This was also when the profession of water bearer saw the light of day.

Following this, the pumps and the water supplies meant that water could be distributed to towns and even right to people's homes.


All of these techniques were to develop very rapidly thereafter.

Today, distribution of water to the population is all controlled electronically from the underground water sources (80%) and the surface waters, rivers and dams (20%).

 

Today in the Region of Wallonia, companies use water very carefully, more often than not within a closed circuit. The same water can be used more than twenty times successively in different industrial processes, which is a measure of eco-efficiency. The promotion of the waterways as a means of transport uses environmental arguments. Work on protecting the environment from flooding caused by subsidence in the mining basins protects the area against flooding.

 

The main preoccupation today is the protection of water as a natural, living element, to maintain it or to restore the quality of the aquatic ecosystems.

In 1995 a decree was passed in which the parliament of Wallonia recognised water, the renewable resource, as a common national heritage. This marked a new point of departure…