Policy support for sustainable soil management and remediation in Flanders

Healthy soils are crucial for our food production, water resources, biodiversity and for the extraction of raw materials. Unfortunately, soil quality in many places in Flanders is considered unhealthy. The Public Waste Agency of Flanders (OVAM) has been working for years on a remediation policy for contaminated soils in the context of the Flemish Soil Decree. VITO acts as the official reference institute for policy advice on soil pollution and remediation in Flanders.

  • Evaluation of soil and groundwater surveys, soil and groundwater remediation proposals and projects
  • Follow-up of remediation measures, advice in cases of complex soil pollution or contaminations of high concern
  • Policy advice on the implementation of scientific findings on soil management and risk assessments
  • Support in developing guidelines for soil investigation and remediation

Expert advice and policy support
Over the past decades, VITO has built up extensive scientific knowledge in soil and groundwater characterization and measurements and modelling of contaminant migration. VITO also acquired expert knowledge on soil and groundwater-remediation techniques and risk evaluation of soil contamination. 

Our team of (hydro)geologists, bioengineers, geographers, GIS and field experts advise governments and industry. We expand our know-how and expertise through applied research projects and day-to-day practice.

Various governmental organisations in Belgium and Europe count on our expertise and support in their decision-making process. Our contribution can be case-specific or more general, such as for the development of policy instruments and guidelines. Examples include support on studies related to soil movement and drafting standards for soil reuse, advise and second opinions on soil surveys and remediation projects. 
The follow-up of complex soil pollution and remediation cases is also part of our service.

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Current concerns
Our expertise covers the entire domain of soil contamination, and challenges associated with obtaining good soil and groundwater quality.

This includes assisting authorities with advice on developing a policy on diffuse contamination or challenges related to water and soil quality. For substances of very high concern such as PFAS, brominated flame retardants…, we conduct studies and provide advice on leaching and other dispersion risks.

We also support the Flemish Government in risk assessments for the reuse of wastewater. We give in particular advice on the risks of soil and groundwater contamination with residues from treated wastewater.

Healthy soils and climate change
A non-polluted soil does not yet mean a healthy soil, i.e., a soil that buffers and filters water, that produces healthy food and stimulates biodiversity, or stores carbon... VITO is committed to these themes and is closely following the development of the future European soil directive in the run-up to a revision of the Flemish soil decree.

Webtools with monitoring data on soil and groundwater quality

The accurate monitoring of soil and groundwater quality is of high importance, especially in regions struggling with contamination on a regional scale. That is why VITO developed dedicated webtools that visualize the available data on local soil and groundwater quality and facilitate a correct interpretation. The functionalities of these tools can be specifically tailored to the user's needs.

Our webtools enable spatial and temporal monitoring of pollutant concentrations in soil and groundwater. Ideal for trend analysis or evaluating the need for additional research.

The soil and groundwater webtool has been developed for the Campine region (Northeast Belgium), which is historically contaminated with heavy metals. A good visualization is therefore essential for effective monitoring and targeted remediation.

Bodemviewer Kempen

Soil Webtool for Campine region

Grondwaterviewer Kempen

Groundwater webtool for Campine Region