Year Review 2023

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    Peer-reviewed articles
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    International colleagues
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Our adventurous quest for water knowledge

“Driven by the desire to make a difference in a more sustainable world” – Dragan Savic, CEO


Reflecting on 2023 fills me with a profound sense of gratitude. This past year has been a remarkable journey for all of us at KWR Water Research Institute. One that has seen us navigate the complexities of research and innovation with unwavering dedication and resilience.

Our collective efforts have advanced the frontiers of knowledge and forged deeper connections with our national and international partners and networks, most notably through the BTO Joint Research Programme that was conducted over the period 2018-2023 by KWR in collaboration with Dutch and Flemish water utilities. Successes in tackling the numerous challenges water managers face, such as dealing with droughts, moving away from the linear economy, enabling strategic thinking, source protection and diversification, give me particular satisfaction and a sense of pride.

For example, 2018-2023 saw the Netherlands facing large-scale drought for the first time, leading to a strategic approach to alternative water sources, reuse and governance. Alongside the traditional joint research programme, the Water in the Circular Economy programme, involving multiple stakeholders, addressed the transition to a sustainable and circular water system. Researchers from different teams focused their research efforts and the deterioration of surface and groundwater due to a rising number of compounds of emerging concern. These challenges were not solely obstacles, but catalysts for growth, pushing us to explore new horizons, think beyond the conventional, and develop impactful solutions.

Fresh perspectives, enthusiasm and excellence

I am especially proud of our early career researchers, who played a pivotal role in our institute. Their fresh perspectives, enthusiasm and willingness to explore new avenues invigorate our scientific community. For example, the ERC Synergy project ‘Water Futures’ focuses on the long-term transition of drinking water systems, a critical aspect given the challenges of climate change, population growth and resource scarcity. Early career researchers in this project delve into decision-making under deep uncertainty, exploring scenarios where traditional models fall short and alternative scenarios are explored.

An early indication of their research quality is the ‘Best Student Paper and Presentation’ award at the 19th International Computing & Control for the Water Industry Conference (Leicester, UK) given to the PhD student Lydia Tsiami. A further highlight of the contributions of ‘early careers’ to forward-thinking is the GRROW (Generational and Radical Rethinking of the Water Sector) project, which generated inspiring scenarios for the future of the drinking water sector

The 2023 report is a testament to the spirit of inquiry that drives us all at KWR. It narrates stories of discovery and perseverance, of late nights in the lab and in the field, and breakthrough moments that brought us all together. First of all in the celebration of 40 years of the BTO Joint Research Programme and all the tangible results that have emerged during those years. Other highlights, among many, include an award-winning H2O article outlining a circular future for ferrous sludge, and the inaugural address at the University of Ghent by Visiting Professor Emile Cornelissen on selective separation techniques. They speak of the tireless work of our researchers, whose passion for understanding the unknown is the heartbeat of our institute, leading to numerous individual and collective successes.

As KWR director, I am honoured to lead such a talented and dedicated group of individuals. Their commitment to excellence inspires me daily, and their hard work turns our shared vision into reality. This report is not just a collection of data and achievements; it is a mosaic of our collective aspirations and the impact we strive to make on society.

This Annual Review describes our accomplishments in 2023. We report on the journey we – along with many others – have made. We now look forward with hope and ambition to the possibilities that lie ahead, starting with the new six-year Joint Research Programme with the Dutch and Flemish water utilities. The same applies to our EU research activities and our collaboration with Watershare partners worldwide. Together, we are not just researchers, scientists or knowledge partners. Driven by a desire to make a difference in a more sustainable world, we see ourselves as pioneers on an adventurous quest for more and more water knowledge.

Dragan Savic, CEO

Also view our previous Year Reviews: 2022 2021 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015

Our adventurous quest for water knowledge

Facts & figures 2023

Selection of news from 2023