Stand-alone decentralised drinking water provision in outlying areas

In remote areas it is sometimes too costly or technically too complicated to connect homes to the central drinking water distribution system. Within this project an evaluation framework was developed and applied in three case studies, with the aim of researching which of the available decentralised sources and treatment techniques were most appropriate. Both practical and financial aspects were taken into account.

Need for an overview

Even if the Netherlands has a high population density and a well-developed infrastructure, there are areas in the country where it is technically and/or financially unfeasible to connect homes to the central drinking water distribution system. There is besides a current trend whereby more and more people want to become self-sufficient, including with regard to drinking water production. This project developed an evaluation framework to investigate the degree to which the existing alternatives can meet drinking water production needs. The framework was then applied in a number of case studies.

Analysis of alternative sources

The alternative sources were studied for a number of cases to determine which might be of interest for decentralised treatment; the associated costs were also examined. Naturally, account was taken of the requirement that the water be of sufficient quality and quantity to serve for the production of drinking water or possibly household water. Because cost functions were only available for large-scale processes, new cost functions were determined for small flow volumes (from 1-1000 households). Both RO and advanced oxidation (UV/H2O2) treatment methods were examined. The technical and regulatory snags connected to the use of these treatment processes were also identified. And the research also looked at what needed to be done to safeguard the supply of sufficient safe drinking water.

Decentralised treatment of local sources

It is in principle possible, based on a local source (such as surface water or groundwater), to install a decentralised treatment system for drinking water. In specific cases the collection of rainwater could also be an option. There is also the possibility of installing a household water system along with the drinking water system, although this offers no financial advantages. Sensors need to be developed to monitor the post-treatment quality, particularly of the drinking water. It is also advisable that the production be placed under the responsibility of the drinking water utility.

Example of water streams under decentralised treatment.

Example of water streams under decentralised treatment