Climate change is having a growing impact on water supply, more knowledge is needed about nanoparticles, and the realisation of a more circular economy requires that drinking sector residual streams be made more suitable for practical applications. These are some of the conclusions of the OperAqua closing symposium which was held at KWR on 3 December 2015.
Collaborating water companies
More than 50 symposium participants from De Watergroep (B), VITO (B), KWR and representatives of the Dutch water companies were presented with an overview of the three-year OperAqua, the collaboration between De Watergroep, VITO and KWR. OperAqua involved the conduct of a research programme that optimised the operational management of water companies and removed bottlenecks. De Watergroep has since become an official participant in the joint research programme for the water companies . The symposium provided a broad picture of recent developments in the areas of safeguarding of water supply, analysis techniques, nanotechnology and the valorisation of residual streams.
Responding to climate change
The symposium showed that climate change will be having an increasingly important impact on water supply in the Netherlands and Flanders, to the point that water companies might have to seek alternatives to current water sources; for example, through the expansion of the water system’s storage capacity. At the same time, it was also noted that knowledge needs to be developed in the area of groundwater recharge, so as to better anticipate future changes. The water sector is also focusing on the development and implementation of new analysis techniques aimed at gaining an understanding of the presence of substances of high concern in drinking water and its available sources.
More knowledge needed about nanoparticles
Nanoparticles present a new challenge to the drinking water sector. They are used in numerous products, but little is known about their behaviour and the risks represented by their presence in water. During the symposium, the most recent research results in the area were presented and set within the context of the legal and regulatory frameworks.
Making residual streams suitable for reuse
In order to bring about a more circular economy, the valorisation of residual streams from drinking water production is truly taking off. The challenge is to render drinking water sector residual streams suitable for practical applications. Work is ongoing within OperAqua to develop products that meet market needs.