Water Quality Knowledge Impulse

Over the past four years, work in the Water Quality Knowledge Impulse has focused on learning more about the quality of groundwater and surface water, and the factors that affect that quality. The aim of the Water Quality Knowledge Impulse (KIWK) programme was to provide tools so that water management authorities can take the appropriate measures to improve water quality and biodiversity. The KIWK included ten projects to achieve this goal.

Clean and healthy surface water is a question of hard work. Pesticides, fertiliser, trace medicines and new, as yet unknown, chemicals are constantly putting pressure on the quality of groundwater, rivers, ditches and ponds in the Netherlands.
The KIWK programme originated from the idea of bringing together existing, but scattered, knowledge and insights, developing new knowledge where necessary, and making this information applicable to water management practice. The aim is to boost the improvement of water quality in the Netherlands and to bring the fulfilment of the objectives of the Water Framework Directive (WFD) one step closer.

Ten Knowledge Impulse projects

The work in the KIWK was done in ten projects that looked at topics such as nutrients, pesticides, veterinary medication and toxic substances in water. The project also studied ways of deriving objectives for brackish waters and ways of improving those methods, system knowledge for ecology, and the causes of changes in the chemical quality of groundwater. The Chain Explorer project looked at three substance chains (microplastics, biocides and consumer products) to identify possible openings for measures to reduce emissions to surface water. Research in the Behavioural Sciences project focused on possible ways of influencing the behaviour of the general public and businesses in order to have a positive impact on water quality.
Finally, the Knowledge Valorisation project focused on sharing, disseminating and embedding the results of the Knowledge Impulse in order to deliver ongoing value.

Results and use of drinking water

The knowledge and insights acquired in the Water Quality Knowledge Impulse will have to be applied in practice to demonstrate their usefulness there. KWR has made a selection of topics that are particularly relevant for the drinking water sector. Those topics were discussed at a BTO-KIWK knowledge event for the drinking water companies. The projects in question were:

Good groundwater now: clean drinking water in the future

An indicator for changes in the clinical quality of groundwater was developed in the Groundwater project. Vulnerability maps were also produced focusing on the penetration of clay layers during boring and geochemical buffering in aquifers. Furthermore, the project developed a way to characterise geochemical buffering.
More information: Arnaut van Loon

Veterinary medication: sources, routes and risks

For the Veterinary Medication project, a top twenty of substances was drawn up based on PMT (persistence, mobility, toxicity). A manual was developed as part of the project with suggestions for monitoring these substances.
By linking to models, it was possible to predict concentrations of veterinary medication in the water. Finally, the emission pathways of medication for pets (antiparasitics) were mapped out.
More information: Stefan Kools

Toxicity. Effects and measures

The KIWK Toxicity project focused on developing the Toxicity Key Factor 2 (SFT2). The SFT2 (including website) provides a collection of tools to classify water quality, both for drinking water and for the ecological system. Specifically for drinking water, there is a track in the Key Factor to assess treatment processes. The tool focuses on measures that reduce toxic pressure. An explanation and manual are available for SFT2.
More information: Tessa Pronk

Chain Explorer: fewer emissions

The biocides, consumer products and microplastics substance groups were investigated for the Chain Explorer project. These substances are found in the aquatic environment, but there are many gaps in knowledge and so a full assessment of all associated risks cannot be made. Selection criteria have now been established for this purpose and openings have been developed for a monitoring strategy. In this way, relevant substances can be monitored in a more targeted way. The project also mapped out the emission reduction that is possible using an approach in the chain.
More information: Joep van den Broeke

Behavioural sciences: changing the approach to water

The Behavioural Sciences project demonstrated that a chain analysis of microplastics in the textile chain provides unique insights. Behavioural interventions with a wide scope were implemented for the project and they were well received by the consumer target group. Working with water authorities to improve water quality using a source-based approach would seem to be promising. It is very important to understand how behaviour can be influenced in this respect. The results have been published in three chain reports and summarised in the clickable PDF ‘Gedrag en water’.
More information: Stef Koop

Nutrients: which agricultural measures make sense?

The Nutrients project devoted considerable attention to a review of the effectiveness of agricultural measures. The newly developed tool ‘Measure on the Map’ (‘Maatregel op de Kaart’) helps farmers to select the most effective measures for their own farm or section of land.
Monitoring was conducted in two river basins. It identified causes and difficulties, such as the fact that emissions occur at different times and places. A monitoring strategy was developed to support an area-based approach to nutrients.
More information: Arnaut van Loon

Valorisation: scoring with knowledge

The Valorisation project worked on exchanging, exploiting and embedding the knowledge in practice. For example in the form of Delta Facts, reports, theme webinars, publications, videos and infographics. At the closing symposium ‘KIWK: Working together on clean water’, the knowledge has been shared with water authorities and drinking water companies, the national government and provincial authorities. In addition, the knowledge is widely and permanently available online on the website
More information: Joep van den Broeke