Is 20% water reduction in the industrial sector feasible?

Potential contribution of Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) and other KWR research discussed at ‘the National Water Symposium’

On Thursday June 8, Frank Oesterholt and I (Gilian Schout) attended the National Water Symposium at Royal HaskoningDHV’s offices in Amersfoort. The overarching theme of the day’s program was the industrial sectors’ water use reduction target of 20% by 2035, as set in the Dutch parliamentary letter Water and Bodem sturend (‘guided by Water and Subsurface’). From the combined presentations and discussions it became clear to me how hard the sector has already been working to minimize their water footprint, but also the major challenges that remain in achieving this goal.

Personally, I had the opportunity to present our research on ASR and had numerous fruitful discussions on whether this technology can be used to develop sustainable and reliable water sources for the industrial sector. Frank talked about the possibility of financing public private partnership research aimed at achieving this goal from the TKI watertechnology, and showcased several projects that were co-financed through the TKI.

Gilian Schout.

Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR); an underutilized technology in the industrial sector?

ASR is a technology were temporary excesses of freshwater are injected into the subsurface, typically using groundwater wells, for use in times of high demand or limited supply of other water sources. In comparison with above ground storage, a main benefit of the technique is that large volumes can be stored with a very limited footprint at the surface. For this reason ASR has become an extensively used technique in the Dutch greenhouse sector and at KWR we have been at the forefront of this development, through applied research linked to the joint development of numerous pilot ASR systems. Recently, KWR was also part of a consortium that developed an ASR design for ECW (, a utility company operating in the AgriportA7 industrial area, who has taken up the challenge of supplying the data centers operating there with a sustainable source of freshwater for cooling (they currently use drinking water supplied by PWN). However, other examples of industrial water users applying ASR are so far limited.

For my talk at this symposium, I was therefore keen to hear the response of the audience to my talk. Both to gauge the interest of industrial water users in this technology, but also (and just as important) to take note of the potential obstacles they saw that would prevent them from applying ASR. After all; if the solution for water footprint reduction in the industrial sector was that straight forward, it would be used more than it is currently, right? And indeed, a number of challenges were brought up by members of the audience after the talk, that seemed to be focused on water quality and (often linked to that) the governance and regulation of ASR systems in the Netherlands. In spite of these potential obstacles, overall enthusiasm for my talk and interest in ASR as a technology seemed high. Which is good to see and shows that the need to secure long term, reliable and sustainable water sources is becoming more and more clear to the industrial sector. Concluding, it appears the time is ripe to explore this opportunity and develop smart new ASR systems tailored to the needs of this new type of user.

TKI watertechnology offers great opportunities for industries

The results of ASR are partly based on Public Private Partnership (PPS) projects within the TKI Watertechnology Program ( That is why my colleague Frank Oesterholt presented more in general what this program could offer to the industries that were present in the audience. TKI Water technology is aiming at the creation of knowledge om new innovative water technologies. Frank explained that with the right consortium of partners consisting of technology suppliers, possible end-users and knowledge institutes and a good commitment of these partners, a substantial co-funding from the TKI-Watertechnology program can be obtained. That depends on the type of research (fundamental, industrial or experimental). E.g. for so called industrial research the inkind and cash contributions of the partners will be doubled (50/50). Applying is easy by using the project idea form on the TKI-Watertechnology website. The idea will be judged first by the TKI Program Office and (after adjustments) finally approved by the TKI board.

To illustrate the possibilities in practice Frank showed some examples of PPS-projects that were recently finished or recently started and in which different industrial partners are involved. The innovations in these projects differ from a new technology to treat slaughterhouse waste water, through an innovative subirrigation for agriculture to the use of new detection methods for detection of Legionella in wastewater. For the PPS-project “From source to effect” that started in 2022, Paula van den Brink from Evides Industriewater and Niek van Belzen from DOW explained to the audience their company’s motivation to join this PPS-project so they are better able to face the challenges they have more and more with the discharge of water streams and the components within.

Frank Oesterholt.