In 2013, together with ZLTO and Meeuwse Goes BV, KWR developed the Freshmaker technique, a method for storing freshwater in the subsurface. Thanks to its promising results, interest in the Freshmaker continued to grow sharply in 2015. In this context, a young team developed a Freshmaker app, which in late January won the Delta Water Award; a water spokesperson from the Dutch Lower House visited the Freshmaker pilot in Zuid-Beveland in March, and the European Union invited KWR to introduce the technique internationally via the EU’s approved SUBSOL project.
The Freshmaker is an innovative form of subsurface water storage based on recently developed horizontal wells. These allow for the enlargement of freshwater lenses over a wide area, by infiltrating the area’s own freshwater surpluses during the winter and simultaneously extracting saline water. There is a great need for this freshwater in dry periods for the sprinkling of valuable crops, such as fruit and vegetables.
Delta Water Award
Five teams of young talents from the water sector worked together to respond to the 2015 Delta Award challenge: ‘Develop an innovative and sustainable project that proposes solutions for the freshwater problems in the South-West Delta’. The current and future supply of freshwater in the South-West Delta cannot be taken for granted. But for farmers freshwater is indispensible. During the winter, in the area around the South-West Delta, there are large amounts of freshwater available from surface water sources and the river water pipeline. This water offers opportunities. With the award-winning app, the farmers can calculate whether the Freshmaker might offer them a good solution. Fresh Force also developed a funding possibility for farmers, which enables them to make use of the Freshmaker technique.
Work visit to Freshmaker pilot
Over 2013-2014 and 2014-2015, at the first Freshmaker in Zuid-Beveland, more than 4,000 m3 of freshwater was injected underground during the winter months and then, in the spring and summer, successfully recovered. This demonstrated that the winter freshwater surpluses, even in a saline environment, can be contained securely for subsequent use without having to resort to surface basins. On Friday, 6 March 2015, Jaco Geurts (CDA member of the Dutch Lower House and water spokesperson) and the Fresh Force team paid a work visit to the Freshmaker pilot in Zuid-Beveland. Together, they brainstormed on ways of promoting the application of the Freshmaker, for example, via stimulation funds and regulatory change.
More Freshmakers and European interest
Based on the experience of the first two years, a decision has been taken to extend the Freshmaker pilot at least until the end of 2017, and thus further develop the system, especially in terms of operational control and pre-treatment. In addition, the three developers, KWR, ZLTO and Meeuwse Goes BV, are studying the possibility of implementing Freshmakers at five other sites spread throughout the South-West Delta. The European Union is also conscious of the potential of the subsurface for freshwater storage, and has asked KWR to introduce the technique internationally via the approved European SUBSOL project.
At the end of August 2015 the Showcase Waterbuffer was officially inaugurated at Prominent in ’s-Gravenzande. The showcase demonstrates various solutions for local and regional freshwater subsurface storage to tackle freshwater shortage in agriculture and horticulture. KWR’s Freshmaker is one of the techniques demonstrated.