Successful Brainport Smart District Water Conference

Jointly developing a circular water system

On 21 September, the research report ‘Water Lab BSD’ was presented during the online Brainport Smart District Water Conference. The report describes what the circular water system could look like in the smartest district in Helmond. The system makes it possible to achieve water savings of 40 to 70%, with framework conditions that satisfy health and safety standards.

Rather than making a technical design up-front, the water-cycle partners (Aa and Maas Water Authority, De Dommel Water Authority, Brabant Water N.V., KWR, the Province of North Brabant, and the municipality of Helmond) offered the conference participants the opportunity to do it themselves. Inspiring discussions were generated using a ‘menu’ with measures and techniques for a circular water system that maximises sustainability, innovation and suitability.

Brainport Smart District

Brainport Smart District is an especially innovative district with about 1,500 homes and a business park of more than 12 hectares situated in Brandevoort, in the municipality of Helmond. In a co-creation project that got under way in 2018, a strong focus has been directed at the design of a smart, circular and resilient water system. KWR is designing and coordinating this process, together with experts from Brabant Water, the Aa and Maas and De Dommel Water Authorities, the Province of North Brabant, the municipality of Helmond and the Brainport Smart District Foundation.

Unique opportunity

Brainport Smart District is an example of a smart city that is not simply a sum of its separate parts, but one whose urban planning environment is being developed with the full integration of new transport, health, energy generation and storage, water provision and (circular) construction technologies. For the water-cycle partners (province, municipality, Water Authorities, water utility), Brainport Smart District represents a unique opportunity to sit down with all the stakeholders, at a particularly early stage of the process, and jointly define the ambitions and objectives for a sustainable district with water as a structuring element.

Project report presentation

Following an exploratory phase, the project report has now been finished, containing a description of what the circular water system could look like in the smartest district in Helmond. Titled ‘Water Lab BSD’, the report was presented on 21 September at the Water Conference to Cathalijne Dortmans, Helmond city councillor and board president of the BSD Foundation. This completed the conceptual design phase, and the partners will now work with the future residents in concretely elaborating and testing a real-life district: a LivingLab.


During the online conference, the different managers discussed the role of water in Brainport Smart District with each other and the viewers. This included explanations given by KWR’s Jos Boere about how a district can work like a sponge. Heat stress will be tackled through the development of green areas, which will also benefit biodiversity. Moreover, the harvested rainwater can also be safely used in many areas in homes, replacing drinking water.

Jos Boere, MT-lid en plaatsvervangend directeur bij KWR, gaf tijdens de Waterconferentie namens de zes waterketenpartners toelichting op de resultaten in het ‘Water Lab BSD’-rapport

During the Water Conference, Jos Boere, MT member and Deputy CEO of KWR, explained the results in the ‘Water Lab BSD’ report in the name of the six water-cycle partners (photo: Brainport Smart District)

New insights

It also became clear that the new approach raised new questions – for instance, what to do with the sewage load level when residents significantly cut their drinking water consumption and treat water for reuse purposes. New questions, to which we still do not have concrete answers. Cathalijne Dortmans closed the conference with a brief word of thanks to all the stakeholders. The research report offers new insights from which all of the stakeholders can clearly profit.