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Domestic consumption of drinking water

The households consume 68% of mains water in the Brussels Region. The average daily drinking water consumption per Brussels resident amounts to 96 litres/day/resident (2012) and has shown a downward trend over the past few years.

Importance of water consumption by households

The consumption of drinking water by Brussels households in 2012 accounted for 68% of total billed consumption in the Brussels Region.
For the same year, the consumption of household drinking water was 96.1 litres/day/Brussels resident. Split per municipality, the same averages fluctuate between 86 and 108 litres/resident/year. The factors responsible for these variations are, however, not precisely known. In any case, many aspects count (family income, size, the availability of a well, etc). According to a study conducted by Aquawal for the Walloon Region, the observed variances should primarily depend upon family income and the presence of rain water reservoirs.

Recent evolution and comparisons between the regions

As was the case in the other Belgian regions, the domestic consumption of drinking water per resident has shown a downward trend for various years: the average water consumption of Brussels residents has been declining continuously between 2002 and 2012 (226 litres or a reduction of almost 20%). In the Walloon and the Flemish Regions, domestic consumption of tap water is estimated to be 94l/day/resident (2009 -Tableau de bord de l’Etat de l’environnement wallon) and 99l/day/resident (2010 - Environmental Report Flanders). A possible explanation for the observed difference with the Walloon Region is the higher use of rain water: prudence is however called for in case of such comparisons because drawing up this type of statistics does not go without methodological difficulties. Moreover the issue of people's "statistical invisibility" is greater in Brussels than in other regions (e.g. candidate refugees that are on the waiting list, persons without documentation, foreign diplomatic personnel and foreign nationals who work for international institutions).
According to the Belgian federation for the water sector (BELGAQUA), the national domestic consumption of drinking water per resident is one of the lowest in Europe. The downward trend of the average consumption level of Brussels residents (-18.2% between 1996 and 2008) shows a good correlation with the consumption on the Belgian level (-23% for the same period according to Belgaqua). The plausible explanatory factors for this reduction are multiple: the expansion of water-saving devices (showers, toilets, dishwashers and washing machines,...), the increase in the water price and the implementation of a progressive tarification (price are higher when the consumption level per person increases), or even an growing awareness of the households.

Domestic consumption of drinking water (2005-2012)
Sources: Vivaqua (water consumption according to metres) and Public Federal Service Economy, General Directorate Statistics and Economic information (National register, population on 1 January of the year)

Domestic consumption of drinking water (2005-2012)

According to data from BELGAQUA (2008), only 12% of water consumption by Brussels families is used for drinking, food and washing.

Household consumption of mains water
Source: BELGAQUA 2008

Household consumption of mains water

Use of rainwater

According to the last general social/economic survey in 2001, only 10% of Brussels families have a rainwater reservoir. Not only is this percentage substantially lower than in the Flemish (43%) and the Walloon Regions (31%), but also lower than in other large Belgian cities (32 % in Ghent, 34% in Charleroi). Furthermore, during the "Barometer of Brussels residents' awareness of environmental sensitivity" in 2009, 16% of the interviewees declared to use rainwater often or on a permanent base (compared to 11% in 2008). This figure varied according to whether the people questioned lived in a house (31% of them said they used rainwater) or in an apartment 11%) and according to whether they were tenants (15%) or owners (18%).
In the Brussels Region, the use of rainwater is encouraged by regional and municipal premiums for the renovation or installation of a rainwater reservoir (in 2010, this applied to 8 municipalities). Nevertheless, a survey by Leefmilieu Brussel conducted with the municipalities indicated that only sporadic use is made of these premiums (see Environmental Impact Report for the Water Management Plan, chapter 2.4, p.213-214). According to the regional data provided by BROH Directie Huisvesting, the premium applications for installing or renovating a rainwater reservoir represent merely 4% of the total number of files submitted (201 applications from a total of 4979 files between January 2008 and February 2011 and 125 applications from a total of 3469 dossiers in 2011 and 2012).
Otherwise, the sustainable use of mains water, particularly by families, is one of the intervention pillars of the Water Management Plan that was approved on 12 July 2012.


  • BELGAQUA, 2008 “BLAUW BOEK - Alles wat u had willen weten over uw drinkwater en de behandeling van het afvalwater”, 76 pages.
  • BRUXELLES ENVIRONNEMENT, 2010, Survey “Baromètre de la sensibilité des Bruxellois envers l’environnement – 2009”
  • INTERTEK et RDC Environnement, September 2012. “Etude du marché des citernes d’eau de pluie en Région de Bruxelles-Capitale” study in the context of the project “Brussels Sustainable Economy (BSE)”, 71 pages.
  • LEEFMILIEU BRUSSEL, 2011, Technical report ”Milieueffectenrapport van het ontwerp van het maatregelenprogramma dat het Waterbeheersplan (WBP) van het Brussels Hoofdstedelijk Gewest begeleidt (.pdf)”, 374 pages
  • LEEFMILIEU BRUSSEL, Factsheet nr 6 about Water: Verbruik en prijs van het leidingwater, (Consumption and price of mains water) 18 pages.
  • LEEFMILIEU BRUSSEL, Factsheet nr 10 about Water: Kwaliteit van het leidingwater, (Quality of mains water) 21 pages.
  • LEEFMILIEU BRUSSEL, 2014. Technical report “ Kwaliteit leidingwater. Kwaliteit van water bestemd voor menselijke consumptie – periode 2008-2009-2010 (.pdf) “, 30 pages
  • PREVEDELLO, C. 2006. “L’utilisation de l’eau de distribution en Région wallonne. Dossier scientifique réalisé dans le cadre de l’élaboration du Rapport analytique 2006-2007 sur l’état de l’environnement wallon. S.A AQUAWAL”, Namur. 110 pages.
  • SERVICE PUBLIC DE WALLONIE, 2012. “Indicateurs Clés de l’Environnement Wallon 2012 : Consommation des ménages – Utilisation de l’eau par les ménages“, 1 page.
  • VIVAQUA, various years, data shared with Leefmilieu Brussel about drinking water consumption per NACE sector.
  • VLAAMSE MILIEUMAATSCHAPPIJ (VMM), 2012. “Milieurapport Vlaanderen (MIRA) - Indicatorreport 2012 (Environmental Impact Report - Indicator report 2012): Waterkwantiteit – waterverbruik (.pdf). (Water quantity - water consumption). 3 pages.


Date de mise à jour: 29/05/2020