project

Networks Roadmap drinking water distribution 2050

Expert(s):
Mirjam Blokker PhD

  • Start date
    01 Jan 2020
  • End date
    31 Dec 2020
  • Principal
    Bedrijfstakonderzoek
  • collaborating partners

In 2050, the Netherlands will have to be ‘climate adaptive’, ‘energy neutral’ and ‘off the gas’. This also applies to the drinking water sector. How can we ensure that the distribution system will be in appropriate shape in 2050? The previously developed roadmap – also dubbed the mindmap or six-year plan – of 2011 and 2017, has to be updated. New wording is needed to reflect what was already known from previous research, what new challenges await us, what steps the water utilities have to take, and what research is needed in this context. The strategic, tactical and operational levels will all be examined.

A sketch of what operational excellence in drinking water distribution will look like in 2050 will be created in collaboration with a wide representation from each water utility. How can water utilities themselves achieve this, and what steps need to be taken to this end in the years ahead? Developing knowledge or new system concepts, training staff and organising data come to mind. Each consultation session will build upon what fellow water utilities have previously achieved, thereby generating a snowball effect.

The project will explore a roadmap for drinking water distribution in 2050. This will support water utilities in prioritising the changes required in their asset management and guiding the Joint Research Programme of KWR and the water utilities.

Keeping up with a rapidly-changing society

Society and the public space are developing rapidly in all sorts of new directions. Take, for instance, the energy transition, artificial intelligence, urbanisation, climate change and ICT developments that produce ever more data and information. The current six-year plan of the TG Distributie only pays limited attention to these new developments, so that the projected research is essentially defined in reference to today’s situation. But to keep the research up-to-date and innovative, it is important to incorporate these new developments into the future vision. To this end, it is useful to mark a point on the horizon: Where do we want to get to, and how can we get there? What research will this require, and what implementation? The year 2050 is an appropriate time point on the horizon, because that is the year when the drinking water sector – just like the rest of the Netherlands – has to be ‘climate adaptive’, ‘energy neutral’ and ‘off the gas’. How can we ensure that the distribution system will be in appropriate shape in 2050?

The previously developed roadmap – also dubbed the mindmap or six-year plan – of 2011 and 2017, has to be updated. New wording is needed to reflect what was already known from previous research, what new challenges await us, what steps the water utilities have to take, and what research is needed in this context. We will work with the several drivers that determine policy, such as minimal (societal) costs, best performance, adaptive capability, transparency towards the end-user, etc. (see also BTO 2015.049 – Strategische planning van drinkwaterinfrastructuur: een conceptueel kader en bouwstenen voor drinkwaterbedrijven) (Strategic planning of drinking water infrastructure: a conceptual framework and building blocks for drinking water utilities). The objective is to examine the strategic, tactical and operational levels.

Sessions with water utilities

This project will involve sessions with a broad representation from the water utilities and guidance by KWR researchers, during which a sketch of what operational excellence in drinking water distribution should look like in 2050 will be created. In preparation for the meetings, KWR will send the participants information about research activities conducted over the past twenty years within the Joint Research Programme, DPWE, TKI and consultancy projects, among others. The abundance of information will be presented comprehensibly in the form of a mindmap or infographic. During the sessions the focus will be on the question of how the water utilities themselves can achieve the stated objectives, including the steps that need to be taken in the years ahead. Besides knowledge development, it is also important that new system concepts and tools be created, staff trained and data organised. Each consultation session will build upon what fellow water utilities have previously achieved, thereby generating a snowball effect.

Roadmap for water utilities

The project is exploratory in character and will result in a roadmap for drinking water distribution in 2050 (output). With this roadmap, the water utilities will be able to prioritise the changes required in their asset management and guide the (Joint Research Programme) research (outcome). This will result in a more effective, efficient and sustainable drinking water provision, within which timely action can be taken to respond to changes in society (impact).

The (outdated) 2011 mindmap.