- Sustainable water cycle
- Sustainable use of freshwater resources
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 people, agriculture, industry and nature, today and into the future.
Freshwater sources under pressure
The supply of sufficient and clean freshwater is under pressure worldwide. Groundwater is becoming more scarce as a consequence of climate change and associated variations in precipitation and evaporation patterns, as well as of intensified land use. Salinisation is threatening the supply of fresh groundwater and surface water in coastal areas. While groundwater quality is strained by a variety of human activities, both aboveground and in the subsurface. In addition, flooding caused by clogging in sump wells, infiltration wells and infiltration reservoirs results in soaring maintenance costs and water production problems. All these threats mean that freshwater sources must be used sustainably. The water companies and water managers are the most appropriate parties to respond to this pressing issue, but how best to do so is still a matter of great uncertainty.
Meeting the requirements
The knowledge, techniques and management measures developed by KWR are aimed at optimally meeting the requirements associated with having sufficient and clean freshwater. We offer the following possibilities for the sustainable use of freshwater sources:
- Establishment of groundwater measurement networks based on the management and analysis of groundwater levels and time series.
- Measurement and modelling of evaporation from the soil and plant-growth in natural vegetations and agriculture, and implications for groundwater recharge (e.g., rainwater harvesting, historical analysis of water management).
- Research into strategies to prevent and better manage clogging (e.g., early warning, microbiology, adjustments to well construction and well switching).
- Monitoring, diagnosis and localisation of sources of (ground)water contamination caused by agricultural activities, industrial point-source discharges and urban pollution.
- Research into the risks for groundwater of subsurface heat production and aquifer thermal energy storage.
- Charting the behaviour in the subsurface of natural pollutants (e.g., arsenic, pharmaceuticals), and translating this into practice.
Sustainable water systems for nature, landscape and agriculture
- Process knowledge of interactions between soil, water and plants, and predictive models of vegetation development (e.g., achievement of environmental objectives, identification of 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
- Methods for the subsurface storage of freshwater in brackish and saline groundwater, for use by greenhouse horticulture and industry during dry periods.
- Development of sump pumps that control salinisation, use of brackish groundwater as a source for drinking water and industry water, and subsurface infiltration of saline residual streams.
- 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.
Integrated vision on sustainable use
With an integrated vision of the freshwater provision, KWR contributes to ensuring the supply of freshwater for people, agriculture, industry and nature. KWR is also an expert partner when it comes to ensuring the freshwater provision in the future. Our knowledge and expertise have broad applicability: from quantifying the balance between supply and demand, to optimising sustainable water management by means of planning, technologies or monitoring.