Joint Research Programme with the water utilities

Collective research programme for the water sector

Water utilities face the challenge of providing sufficient, safe and healthy drinking water. At KWR we have been working with the water utilities for the water sector in our Joint Research Programme (‘BTO’ in its Dutch abbreviation) since 1983. The programme launched the Water in the Circular Economy (WiCE) research initiative, and the overall programme became known as ‘BTO/WiCE’. This collective research programme embodies the unique collaboration within the drinking water sector and generates knowledge and technology in the field of drinking water. The programme delivers up-to-date knowledge for effective and sustainable operational management. It also provides water utilities with the knowledge to help them continue innovating, and to maintain the level of the water provision and ensure water availability, today and into the future.

Water in the circular economy

The water utilities in the Netherlands and Belgium and KWR took the initiative of setting up the multi-annual Water in the Circular Economy (WiCE) research programme. The Dutch and Flemish water utilities collaborate together within WiCE with partners from other sectors, including the Water Authorities and businesses.  WiCE provides knowledge and solutions for the responsible reuse of water, the closing of raw material loops, and water-related technology in the energy transition.

Sustainable drinking water provision

KWR is the principal implementor and coordinator of the Joint Research Programme, acting in close collaboration with the ten Dutch water utilities, the Flemish De Watergroep and the branch association Vewin. Our shared objective is a drinking water provision that is sustainable and future-proof. The exploratory, in-depth, and practice-oriented research of the Joint Research Programme also contributes to knowledge about and solutions to societal challenges, such as drought, and to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

BTO/WiCE 40 years of collaboration

The Dutch and Flemish water utilities involved aspire – now and in the future – to jointly contribute to a healthy society and a strong economy, supported by healthy natural ecosystems.

In 2023 we celebrated the fortieth anniversary of the Joint Research Programme. We marked this special jubilee through the course of the year. We kicked off in March with a symposium for the new generation of drinking water professionals, who developed future scenarios in dialogue with their older colleagues. On a sunny day in June, we organised the BTO Festival Day under the themes of collectivity and circularity. And in November, on the occasion of the Amsterdam International Water Week (AIWW), KWR researchers and shared their diverse knowledge with other water professionals.

Keeping up to date with BTO/WiCE News

The participants of the Joint Research Programme can be sure of keeping up to date with the latest developments in the field of water research and technology. Thanks to BTO/WiCE Net – an own digital environment – they have access to publications, news and agendas. They also receive our digital newsletter, BTO Nieuws.

Are you on staff at one of the participating water utilities? And do you want to keep up to date on all developments? Then go to BTO – Home ( and register.