4D Source protection in a changing world

This project involves studying the application of a 4D approach to source protection. The approach is based on knowledge about subsurface (3D) and future (4D) developments, and also takes into account the uncertainties in societal/policy developments and our knowledge of the water system. 3D and 4D developments and their uncertainties are researched in two cases: one groundwater abstraction area in Helmond and the surface water abstraction from the river Meuse. The building blocks for 4D source protection are developed on the basis of these two cases.

A new approach to sustainable source protection

Today, source protection focuses primarily on current challenges and developments occurring on the surface and in the shallow subsurface (2D). The ‘4D source protection in a changing world’ project aims to clarify the action perspective of the drinking water companies’ source management, so that developments in the deep subsurface (3D) and in time (4D) are also taken into account. On this basis, the ‘building blocks’ will be developed for 4D source protection, which should contribute to a future-proof and sustainable availability of drinking water reserves.

One groundwater and one surface water case

The project consists of three phases. In the first phase, in a collaboration with experts from within and outside the drinking water sector, the key developments affecting drinking water sources are identified. In the second phase, future scenarios are used to set these developments within the context of the two abstraction cases: one groundwater abstraction area in Helmond and the surface water abstraction from the river Meuse. In each case, the impact of particular developments is calculated within the scenarios. In the third and last phase, adaptive action strategies are developed to deal with the threats and associated uncertainties.

Innovative approach

This project involves researching an innovative approach to source protection, which not only extends the scope of today’s source protection to include the subsurface (3D) and the future (4D), but also draws on different types of expertise. Besides geohydrological knowledge and knowledge about (chemical) water quality, the project makes explicit use of knowledge about societal and policy developments that could affect source protection, and specifically applies futures studies expertise in order to develop action strategies. In this manner the project contributes to an innovative, more integrated approach to research into source protection.