This afternoon representatives of De Watergroep and KWH Water B.V., in the presence of the Flemish Prime Minister Geert Bourgeois and the Dutch minister Lilianne Ploumen, signed the accession agreement whereby De Watergroep will become a shareholder in KWH Water. The Dutch water companies are the current shareholders of the KWH holding company, to which KWR belongs. With the accession of De Watergroep to the circle of shareholders, KWH Water welcomes its first foreign shareholder. Last year, De Watergroep also became the first foreign shareholder of AquaMinerals, in which the Dutch water companies also make up the other shareholders.
Earlier, on 1 May 2016, De Watergroep joined BTO: the collective research programme of the Dutch water companies, branch association Vewin and research institute KWR. BTO is a prominent global applied scientific water research programme, generating knowledge that strengthens the water companies in fulfilling their societal task of supplying safe and healthy (drinking) water.
As a launching customer of new water knowledge in Flanders and as the largest drinking water company in Belgium, De Watergroep is an important source of knowledge for the Flemish-Dutch collaboration. Conversely, the shareholdership in KWH Water is of interest to De Watergroep because of KWR’s extensive experience in joint knowledge development, the high scientific quality of its work, and its links with international organisations and networks. For instance KWR is a Collaborating Centre of the World Health Organization (WHO), is represented on the board of a number of international water networks (GWRC, WssTP), and is very active in the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) Water. Moreover, KWR disposes of highly specialised knowledge and facilities, and functions as an emergency laboratory for the (drinking) water sector.
For De Watergroep accession to KWH Water fits in with its stronger focus on Research & Development. De Watergroep also has a structural collaboration with the Flemish technology research centre VITO. With its shareholdership De Watergroep also wants to promote the collaboration between the Flemish and Dutch research communities. In this connection, researchers from several Flemish top universities will be brought into BTO research projects. The aim is to further crosslink the Flemish and Dutch knowledge networks in the field of water. Through the greater bundling of their strengths in the joint BTO research, the parties hope to provide Dutch and Belgian citizens and companies in the future with safe and healthy (drinking) water, in an even better and more efficient manner. They also want to provide an example in the bundling of strengths and engagement in intensive collaboration, such as shareholdership, that transcend national boundaries.
About De Watergroep
De Watergroep is the largest drinking water company in Belgium. De Watergroep supplies drinking water to 3 million customers in 175 Flemish municipalities, spread over the provinces of West and East Flanders, Flemish-Brabant and Limburg. As an integrated water company, De Watergroep is also active in wastewater management and develops company-tailored industrial water projects.