Preventing the spread of infectious diseases via water

Microbial safety and hygiene

Water systems have to be designed and function in such a way that citizens can safely use drinking water and that diseases are not spread via the water. By developing knowledge and practical tools, KWR provides the water sector with the means it needs to meet increasingly stringent guidelines.

Working proactively on safe and hygienic water

Our society cannot do without healthy water. Water systems have to be designed and function in such a way that citizens can safely use them and that diseases are not spread via the water. To this end, the guidelines of the World Health Organization (WHO) for safe drinking, sanitation and irrigation water have been sharpened: instead of the simple determination of water quality, they incorporate a proactive approach to analysis and management of safety risks.
The transition from a reactive to a proactive approach to risk is very important for the water sector. It creates a need for more knowledge about the sources and spread of pathogens in the watercycle. Any potential water-quality problems have to be addressed with effective measures.

Knowledge and practical tools

KWR provides the water sector with the knowledge and practical tools it needs to meet (drinking) water hygiene and safety guidelines.

  • Knowledge about the occurrence of pathogens in pollution sources and how these are spread via water.
  • Solid understanding of processes that result in the removal, disinfection or inactivation of microorganisms (e.g., viruses, bacteria, protozoa) in the watercycle.
  • Development of Microbial Source Tracking genomics methods for tracking contamination sources.
  • Development of genomics tools to determine the spread of new pathogens via water, with future research directed at viruses and antibiotic resistance.
  • Development of hydrodynamic tools to achieve a better understanding, combined with knowledge about contamination sources, of the significance of pathogens in water.
  • Use of a transparent and consistent Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment (QMRA) system for fast and effective risk analysis.
  • Development and use of Water (Cycle) Safety Plans (WSPs) to make water safe; from identification, prioritisation and management of risks to communication.
  • Use of knowledge and lab facilities, for example, to test Household Water Treatment Systems used in developing countries.
  • Making hygiene and safety manageable

Making hygiene and safety manageable

With KWR’s solid knowledge and effective tools, the water sector has the means to make the microbial safety and hygiene of drinking water manageable. In this regard, KWR has regularly proved its reliability as a partner, both in the Netherlands and internationally. Since KWR is a WHO Collaborating Centre for Water Quality & Health, developing countries can also count on our expertise; for instance, in reducing infant mortality resulting from infectious diseases caused by unsafe drinking water and unhygienic sanitation.