Access to sufficient and clean freshwater is not self-evident. Increasingly, and all over the world, the water sector is confronted with the challenge of using freshwater sources sustainably. KWR develops knowledge, technologies and management measures to optimally meet the requirements for sufficient and clean freshwater sources. We are an expert partner of the water sector in ensuring the freshwater provision for drinking water, agriculture, industry and nature, today and into the future.
Freshwater sources under pressure
The supply of sufficient and clean freshwater is under pressure worldwide. The sustainable use of freshwater sources is necessary to address the multifaceted challenges facing the water sector. Changing precipitation patterns and evaporation, caused by the intensification of agricultural activities and climate change, are resulting in reduced groundwater recharge. Salinisation is threatening the availability of fresh groundwater and surface water in coastal areas. While groundwater quality is threatened by human activities both aboveground and subsurface. The issues surrounding the sustainable use of freshwater sources present water companies and water managers with a number of questions.
Research into sustainability of freshwater sources
KWR develops knowledge, technologies and management measures to optimally meet the requirements for sufficient and clean freshwater sources.
- Establishment of groundwater measurement networks, combined with the development of computer programs to manage and analyse groundwater levels and conduct time series analysis.
- Measurement and modelling of evapotranspiration – the sum of ground and plant-growth evaporation – in natural vegetations and agriculture, with a translation to the groundwater recharge situation in high sandy grounds.
- Monitoring, diagnosis and localisation of sources of contamination of (ground)water resulting from agricultural activities, industrial point-source discharges and urban pollution.
- Research into the risks for groundwater posed by the use of the subsurface for heat production and aquifer thermal energy storage.
- Research into the behaviour in the subsurface of natural pollutants such as arsenic, and emerging contaminants such as pharmaceuticals. Application of this knowledge for quality predictions in (drinking) water wells, and for the further development of concepts such as dune and river-bank filtration for pollutant removal.
Sustainable water systems for nature, landscape and agriculture
- Development of process knowledge concerning the interactions between soil, water and plants, and of predictive models of vegetation development. Among other things, this helps realise environmental objectives and identify future biodiversity hotspots.
- Development of robust water systems for nature, agriculture and drinking water, using water storage, water reuse and an optimal coordination of landscape functions.
Optimal freshwater provision by using the subsurface
- Development of methods for the subsurface storage of freshwater in brackish and saline groundwater, so that the freshwater is available for use by greenhouse horticulture and industry during dry periods.
- Development of sump pumps that counter salinisation, use of brackish groundwater as a source for drinking water and industry water, and subsurface infiltration of saline residual streams.
- Research into the possibilities for reusing industrial and urban residual water through temporary storage and supplementary treatment in the subsurface. Residual water would thus be available for greenhouse horticulture and farming.
Ensuring freshwater provision
KWR’s research contributes to ensuring a sustainable freshwater provision for drinking water, agriculture, industry and nature. Our integrated vision creates synergies for optimal water (re)use, signals threats and facilitates a sustainable coexistence with parallel developments, such as the growth of geothermal energy. From quantifying the balance between supply and demand, to optimising sustainable water management by means of planning, technologies or monitoring: KWR is an expert partner in ensuring the freshwater provision, today and into the future.