Year Review 2019

News

Efficient use of freshwater

Responsible water reuse is a topical issue for many stakeholders. Companies, Water Authorities and farmers are all looking for ways to make better use of available water sources. Among the subjects of KWR’s research in 2019 were the opportunities and risks associated with using treated industrial and domestic wastewater as sources of freshwater. Within the European context, our researchers contributed to the demonstration of innovative, technological, administrative and business solutions for the implementation of water reuse.

Water reuse of increasing importance

We need to face it: having constant access to enough freshwater can no longer be taken for granted. This renders the reuse of water increasingly important. Companies, Water Authorities and farmers are all looking for ways to make better use of available (alternative) water sources.

But they can’t do this on their own, and there remain some open questions. What techniques are available? And is the reused water actually of the right quality? KWR offers the entire package of all that is involved in the responsible reuse of water under a single roof. ‘This is unique,’ says researcher Ruud Bartholomeus. ‘Our many years of expertise is brought together under this theme. Since water reuse will inevitably grow in importance in the decades ahead, we can play a very significant role here.’

The various layers required for responsible reuse – water systems, treatment, water quality, health, governance and more – are available, under a single roof, at KWR.

Examples of research

In 2019, KWR had several ongoing research projects in the area of water reuse. For example, we continued our work on identifying the opportunities and risks associated with using treated industrial and domestic wastewater as sources of freshwater. A variety of sectors, from drinking water utilities to farmers, Water Authorities and industry, contributed to possible future scenarios.

We also sought ways of using treated residual water as process water. The demonstration of solutions for water reuse was at the centre of the European NextGen project, which KWR coordinated. Apart from technological solutions, this also concerns the perception of water reuse.

The same applies to the Water in the Circular Economy (WiCE) research programme, within which KWR studied the degree to which water reuse can contribute to a circular water system in sustainable districts.

Connecting sectors

In 2019, within the WiCE programme, KWR organised the WiCE-roadshow with the aim of inspiring stakeholders about water reuse. Over 70 representatives from the drinking water, wastewater, government, agriculture and industry sectors shared their knowledge and experience about how they can achieve a better balance between freshwater demand and supply. ‘It works much better if we find intersectoral solutions, rather than seeking solutions for ourselves,’ according to Ruud Bartholomeus. ‘Only by connecting sectors can we achieve a responsible usage, recharge and reuse of our freshwater.’

2020 preview

For the year ahead, KWR has many new water reuse projects in the pipeline, including a partnership with the Water Authorities aimed at getting the ‘Water Factories’ concept further off the ground. In this instance, water originating from wastewater treatment plants is not rapidly discharged into surface water, but is instead extensively treated for subsequent use, for instance, in irrigation. Bartholomeus: ‘Because of the increased incidence of drought, we have to work on closing the water loops. By retaining and using residual water in the area, and abstracting less groundwater, we work towards a more robust water system.’