onderwerp

Signalling and managing risks in the application of new technologies

Safe innovation and the water sector

Insight into the potential risks to (drinking) water and public health is not often present when it comes to innovations. Nor are the conditions for the public acceptance of the innovations always clear. By means of research, the water sector wants to proactively determine the connections between the opportunities, the safety and the acceptance of new technologies. KWR offers concrete solutions by conducting research into determining and possibly managing potential risks. This work contributes to maintaining strong public trust in the water sector.

Uncertainties of innovations

The Dutch government and the EU strongly stimulate innovation. Take for example the areas of emerging contaminants, nanotechnology, new forms of energy extraction such as shale gas, or the development of a bio-based economy. But besides expectations, innovations also create uncertainties. They are often put on the market without due adjustments to the regulatory framework. Or there’s insufficient insight into the possible risks they present to (drinking) water or into the conditions for their public acceptance. By means of research, the water sector wants to proactively determine the connections between the opportunities, the safety and the acceptance of new technologies.

Research and risk management

To develop concrete solutions for safe innovation, KWR conducts research into determining and possibly managing the potential risks associated with new technologies.

• Risk analysis and management
Signalling and management of potential risks to public health in drinking water production and distribution – for example, through quantitative risk analysis (such as Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment, or QMRA) and qualitative Water (Cycle) Safety Plans (WSPs). We develop innovative and pointed methods concerning both the exposure risks and the intrinsic hazard of the application of new technologies.

• Overarching method
Development and validation of an overarching method for risk analysis for new technologies, directed at water quality and public health, and built upon existing methods.

• Safe water
Research into fundamental and practical aspects of the effectiveness of treatment processes, and non-technological intervention possibilities aimed at improving water quality and the uses of the water system.

• Perception and safety
Research into citizen perception of the safety of water systems, including their expectations in this regard and the way in which the water sector communicates about safety risks.

Maintaining public trust

With its risk analysis, risk management and research KWR provides the indicators needed for the safe implementation of new technologies. The water sector can react proactively to risks whenever necessary. Technology developers receive indicators to produce responsible innovations that have a greater chance of market acceptance. And the government has access to the insight it needs to develop additional policies. This contributes to maintaining strong public trust in the water sector.

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