Rik Delameilleure

Reuse of treated wastewater for irrigation


Rik Delameilleure

Case Study Contents

About Farm

Farm Name

Rik Delameilleure

Year of foundation



West Flanders

Farm area/size of the organisation:

10 ha

Number of workers:

< 5

Farm main activity:

General field crops, Horticulture, Greenhouse (mainly lettuce)

Climate and soil characteristics

Temperate climate with adequate precipitation. Sandy loam soil.

Measure Information

Description of the measure

The purified wastewater from the Ardo factory in Ardooie is stored in a 150.000 m³ litres large basin. Then, a 23 km long irrigation network distributes the water towards the surrounding fields. Farmers can connect their irrigation reel on one of the 150 branching points and start immediately with the irrigation of their crops.

Objective of the measure

Reuse of wastewater for the irrigation of crops

Justification of the choice

The crops require high amounts of irrigation water and, in the past, they always faced shortages. Also, there is no groundwater in the area and no other sources are available.

Where did You get information of the measure from?

All farmers in the surroundings of the factory were personally informed of this possibility.

Description of the situation before the measure implementation

For irrigation, they depended on supply via tankers from the canals or the local reservoir.


Stakeholders involved

Farmers’ cooperative (INERO), Ardo, Inagro (research institute), Vlakwa (water knowledge centre), province West-Flanders, Flemisch government, European institutions

Description of stakeholders’ role

The province West-Flanders, Flemisch government, and European institutions contributed with financial support.

Farmers’ cooperative (INERO), Ardo, Inagro (research institute), Vlakwa (water knowledge centre) contributed through knowledge sharing and in the realisation of the project.

Implementation phase

Materials used

Basin characteristics:
  • 150.000 m³
  • 9 m (4.5 m above ground and 4.5 m below)
  • HDPE foil

Irrigation network characteristics:
  • 23 km
  • 16 bar pressure

Costs for the implementation

Both Ardo and INERO contributed to the project costs. Ardo paid for the irrigation basin, while INERO paid for the pumping station, the piping network and some other extra costs like accountant, notary, insurance.

Utilization of subsidies

Farmers’ cooperative INERO was subsidized for 60%, while Ardo was subsidized for 40%.

Implementation / building

The project started in 2015 and ended in 2021.

Required maintenance operations

Maintenance of pumps and pumping station, a yearly check of the branching point (pump out water).

Recommended knowledge / skills / training / courses / education desired before starting the measure implementation

Knowledge of water requirements in the surrounding area.


  • Supply of water through tankers costs three times the price.
  • Higher yield, so higher income.
  • Possibility to continue to grow certain water-intensive crops in the area.
  • Less nuisance to the environment, because less need to drive around with a tanker.
  • No need to run a diesel pump.
  • Peace of mind because of certainty of water access.
  • Time saving.
  • Easy system to work with.
During wet summers the economic benefits are reduced, but this could be intended as a kind of insurance for water access.


Innovation elements

The use of an irrigation network of such scale, instead of just using a basin where farmers can use their tanker to get water, is rather unique in Belgium.

Key element for success

The cooperation of the company of Ardo together with the farmers and the different research institutes. In this way, knowledge is shared between all stakeholders.


Physical constraints

The pipes are located on private land, which meant that a notary was needed to record everything in deeds.

When the pipes crossed public roads, drilling was necessary.

Acceptance constraints

Not all farmers are persuaded by the system; they sometimes still think that the water is more expensive than when they get it themselves using tankers and diesel pumps.

Proposed solutions to above constraints

Give more information to farmers.

Build a community of practice.

Lesson learned

Farmers’ experiences

The system works very well and is very easy in use. It gives you peace of mind that water is at hand.

The cooperative INERO is a big advantage. In this way, the farmers are in charge of the system and not the company. Ardo only delivers the water, but the farmers can choose what they do with it.

Measure sustainability

Environmental sustainability

Less use of surface water, less exhaustion of natural water sources.

Reuse of wastewater is a great example of the circular economy.

Economical sustainability

Reuse of resources that otherwise would be lost.

Security of water supply improve the economic sustainability of the farms.

Transfer of the measure

Replicability conditions required

  • Purified wastewater
  • ‘Good’ quality water
  • Location for irrigation basin
  • Fields that need irrigation in surroundings
  • Cooperative farmers in surroundings

Additional Required Conditions for spreading the measure

Need for a coherent subsidy framework.

This was a decisive element for the realisation of this project.

Every country can realise this if there is an adequate regulatory framework (subsidies).

Conclusion remarks

The reuse of treated wastewater is a win-win solution for both stakeholders (Ardo and farmers)

Future plans

Replication of similar systems on other factory sites.

Open problems

Enough subsidies to realise such big projects.

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