How to take care of our subsurface?

By Melanne Rouw
May 15, 2015

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If we are asked to draw a tree, we often don’t draw the roots of the tree—why?
Do we actually know what is happening under our feet?
We are talking about the subsurface here!

On the 23th of April a congress was taking place in Utrecht about how to deal with our ‘subsurface’. Different actors from different fields came together to discuss and learn from each other about how to deal with the subsurface.

A lot of activities are taking place in the subsurface; drinking water extraction, infrastructural uses, energy storage, storage of CO2, cold/warmth storage, storage of waste, natural processes, salt winning, sand winning, earth warmth winning (geometry), sanitation of subsurface and archeological activities etc. There are activities that are clashing with each other, while other activities reinforce each other.



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The Netherlands is often seen as a country with a lot of rules in which everything is arranged strictly, but what about the regulations for the subsurface? During the discussions of the congress some parties wanted to have less regulations and are viewing the regulations as too complex for the normal citizen. Other actors were arguing that more regulations are needed to get a better overview and control of who is responsible for what. Furthermore it was argued that more regulations can provide space for innovations.

So who needs to take the lead in the subsurface? Or do we all together need to take the lead? Should there be more cooperation between different actors and how? Are more regulations needed? What about the control/value on longer terms? The interests for the subsurface that we have now, can be completely different from interests and values for over a long term. Can’t we just replicate how we arranged everything above ground in the subsurface?

How to take care of ‘our subsurface’? Let’s begin with sharing knowledge about what is actually going on under our feet and take responsibility for this.


At the ‘subsurface congress’, a Dutch video on the dilemmas in cooperation and decision-making in working with the subsurface, was shown. You can view it here (in Dutch):


May 15, 2015  
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