Flanders: Vereniging van Vlaamse Polders en Wateringen, VVPW
In Flanders, 85 out of the 104 polders and wateringen are member of the Vereniging van Polders en Wateringen (VVPW). The members of the Vereniging (Association) cover 93% of the total area of the Flemish polders and wateringen. The Assembly meets at least once per year.
Polders and wateringen
Polders and wateringen belong to the oldest and most characteristic public governance structure in Flanders. Already in 1183 the ‘Watering van Veurne Ambacht’ was mentioned. According to the legislation, their task has been the protection of their management area to water surpluses and to realize favourable water regime and hygienic circumstances for agriculture. From this history it is understandable that agriculture is one of the main interests of the Polders and Wateringen. In addition, the interests of nature protection, fishery, tourism and drinking water supply are considered as aspects of integrated water resources management, which is the present focus of the organizations.
The judicial basis is laid down in the 1956 Act on wateringen and the 1957 Act on polders.
The basic principles of these acts are the same. The main difference regards the location and function. Polders are situated in a so-called polder zone, an area protected by dikes from flooding by the sea or rivers. Wateringen are situated in other (mostly more elevated) areas. At present 104 polders and wateringen are active over a total area of 307.063 hectare.
Polders and wateringen are characterized as functional democracies. Those who have an interest bear the costs by taxation and have a say in the assembly. This is the triplet interest-pay-say.
Wallony: Association des Wateringues Wallones A.S.B.L. (A.W.W.)
The Walloon Association of Wateringues (AWW) was established in 1997. The AWW represents 21 of the 45 wateringues, covering 89% of the total area (18.800 hectares) managed by wateringues.
Wateringues are public bodies for water management. The oldest wateringue registered in the Walloon region dates from 1870. Basic tasks of wateringues are maintaining and safeguarding a favourable water regime for agriculture and hygienic circumstances. These tasks are laid down in the 1956 Act on wateringues.
According to the 1967 Act on non-navigable water courses, the maintenance of water courses is devided by the region, provinces, municipalities and wateringues. The Walloon region is responsible for the maintenance of water courses of the 1st category. The provinces are responsible for the maintenance of the 2nd category water courses. The Municipalities for the 3rd category water courses and the Wateringues for the not-classified water courses.