No laundry without water. But in times when water is becoming more and more precious, how can you provide companies that need it with sufficient water? In order to better arm Flanders against the consequences of climate change and the associated drought, Flemish Minister Zuhal Demir has committed four million euros to support eight projects of the 'Living Labs Drought'. For example, the Excelsior laundry in Ninove, three local businesses and the Flemish Waterway have signed a cooperation contract.

Ninove - We know what it's like in Flanders: days in which the rain is pouring down with buckets alternate with ever longer periods of drought. In Ninove, they know the problem all too well: a number of companies in the industrial estate (Mallaardstraat) are located in a flood-sensitive area close to the Dender and at the same time one of those companies - the Excelsior laundry - depends on water to carry out its activities. In order to arm themselves against this flood-sensitivity and at the same time make Excelsior less dependent on tap water, the four companies have decided to join forces with the Vlaamse Waterweg (which is located on the same industrial estate) to achieve a win-win solution through cooperation.

The companies involved do not need water for their production process, but do risk flooding in case of heavy rainfall. Moreover, they all have large roofs that also capture a lot of water when it rains. Until now, the excess rainwater was simply discharged into the Dender. That is why the four companies decided to collect the water that ends up on their roofs, store it locally and release it for treatment, so it can be used as washing water by Excelsior. Their roofs together account for approximately 11,000 m3 of rainwater per year. Laundry Excelsior will use 80m3 of that per week as washing water.
This project will also investigate whether it is possible to allow excess rainwater to seep into the soil in a delayed and controlled way during wet periods. In addition, excess water will be used by the city of Ninove for watering the city's plants and for the drain suction dredger used to clean the sewage wells.

One of the policy priorities of the current Flemish Government is to stimulate the large-scale collection and active use of rainwater on industrial estates and residential areas. Projects such as 'testing grounds for drought' teach us a lot about the way in which such initiatives can be broadly rolled out.

The companies involved in this new testing ground:

  • Anca - general construction of other non-residential buildings
  • Excelsior - laundry
  • Vlaamse Waterweg nv
  • Remitrans - transport company
  • Euro-mousse - manufacture of mattresses

VITO/Vlakwa provides support for the dissemination of knowledge, but also for active guidance with regard to the project approach.

More information about Celco nv and the vision on water use 

Celco nv (Excelsior) is a family business that has been active in the laundry sector for 80 years. At the end of 2018, new premises were purchased in the industrial zone mentioned for the relocation of the company. This relocation creates the opportunity to optimally organize the laundry, among other things with regard to the use of sustainable water sources, optimal water consumption and possible water (re)use. Good quality water is a basic raw material for the laundry. The construction of boreholes with high quality water (after consultation at > 14 m depth) is strongly inhibited. Furthermore, the use of tap water is not only very expensive, but also socially difficult or even irresponsible. The water from the Dender varies greatly (season, rainfall, etc.). Hence the choice to use rainwater was obvious to Celco nv, given the flood sensitivity of the area.

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