01 May '24

Water mills galore

door Luc Vander Elst
The Molenbeek stream springs forth near the ponds of Sint-Genesius-Rode, at Sint-Annahoeve and Hof Te Lansrode, and flows from Sint-Genesius-Rode through Alsemberg, Dworp, and Huizingen to its mouth in the Zenne river in Lot.

After a journey of 12.5 km, the Molenbeek River descends over 60 meters, truly living up to its name: Molenbeek translates to Mill Brook, as the river and its tributaries once powered 21 watermills, some of which still stand today. The Molenbeek was a vital artery, providing spring water and generating economic activity for the region. The watercourse has been diverted, straightened, relocated, and encased multiple times. It also has a dark side. Extreme weather events, climate change, and increasing construction work regularly cause serious flooding in villages and low-lying areas.