Safe drinking water is paramount for the health and wellbeing of all populations. Unsafe drinking water can contain pathogenic microorganisms and/or chemicals that can make people immediately unwell or can potentially cause serious illness over prolonged exposures.

Within the EU, water is extracted from surface and groundwater sources and treated to comply with EU drinking water standards under the Water Framework Directive and Drinking Water Directive. The water is then circulated through the drinking water distribution system (DWDS). During transport in the DWDS, water quality can deteriorate due to microbiological growth, chemical reactions, interactions with ageing and deteriorating infrastructure, and through maintenance and repair activities.

Water companies within the EU are administered at the local level – i.e., city or county region – and while they adhere to the overarching EU directives governing quality, they can choose their own treatment protocols, maintenance procedures and hydraulic operations. Some DWDS actions such as flushing may serve to improve water quality, however, they can also adversely impact the drinking water system and cause instances of poor water quality or disease outbreaks.

We propose to bridge the gap between science and practice, involving water companies and researchers from multiple locations across Europe along with third-country expertise, to examine DWDS operational practices and apply scientific research.

Cross-border exchange of researchers

Within the EU H2020-MSCA-RISE-2017, the EU funds exchanges of researchers from a university in an EU member state to a company in another country, or from a company in an EU member state to a university in another country. The grant covers travel, accommodation and subsistence costs, and required training. The researcher finances his or her own research hours. KWR is considered a company in this context, and our researchers will be going to the universities of Sheffield, Valencia, Exeter and NTNU with the aim of acquiring added value there for various BTO projects. Researchers from universities in Brno, Exeter, Sheffield, Bordeaux (Irstea), Dresden (TZW), Italy and Belgrade will visit KWR, PWN and Waternet and apply their methods in Dutch water practice, and also learn about how we organise drinking water distribution in the Netherlands.

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