Joint Research Programme with the water utilities

Collective research programme for the water sector

The challenge for water utilities is to provide sufficient, safe as well as healthy drinking water. Water utilities need to operate efficiently and sustainably, on the basis of the latest knowledge. It is also important for them to innovate, so that the level of the drinking water provision is maintained into the future and water supplies ensured. This is why KWR and the water utilities work together in their Joint Research Programme. A collective research effort for the water sector that generates water knowledge and technology, today and into the future.

Our collaboration

The Dutch water utilities together with KWR have been investing in the development and preservation of a sustainable knowledge base for over forty years. Our collaboration is unique. Nowhere else in the world do drinking water utilities and a research institute work so closely with each other in the collective interest of the sector. We are leaders in the area of a healthy, sustainable, efficient and innovative drinking water provision that respects nature and the environment. This has contributed to making the drinking water provision in the Netherlands one of the best in the world.

Drinking water research

KWR is the principal implementor and coordinator of the Joint Research Programme with the 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. Thanks to the Joint Research Programme, the water utilities, KWR, together with national and international partners, generate valuable knowledge which contributes to (cost) effectively answering research questions, and to transposing scientific knowledge to practice. The exploratory, in-depth, and practice-oriented research of the Joint Research Programme also helps find solutions to societal challenges, such as drought, and contributes to the sustainable development goals (SDGs) of the United Nations.

Joint Research Programme’s subprogrammes

The Joint Research Programme consists of various subprogrammes with distinct objectives and approaches, namely:

  • Exploratory research to keep apprised of new developments and ways of thinking, and to orient the innovation.
  • Thematic research to develop knowledge and technology for joint, drinking water-relevant themes like water quality, sustainable water production, climate change, asset management, treatment technology and measurement methods.
  • Tailored research for a single or a few water utilities to accelerate the development and implementation of specific research subjects or technologies.
  • ‘Organisation & Networking’ which covers the research programming, management and coordination, and communication on these matters among the Joint Research Programme participants and with the water sector and national and international knowledge community.

The Thematic research subprogramme, for its part, covers eight important substantive themes for the water sector:

  • Sources and environment
  • Treatment
  • Distribution
  • Biological safety
  • Chemical safety
  • Integrated Asset Management
  • Hydroinformatics
  • Clients (water utility customers and industrial clients)

We also provide policy-support research to assist Vewin in its branch representation mission. This is directed at technical-scientific subjects on the water agendas in The Hague and Brussels. Lastly, there is the Agreement on Flemish-Dutch Water Knowledge Development collaboration between KWR, De Watergroep and Flemish universities.

Water in the Circular Economy (WiCE)

The water utilities in the Netherlands and Belgium took the initiative, within the Joint Research Programme, of setting up a multi-annual research programme focused on Water in the Circular Economy: WiCE. The Dutch and Flemish water utilities collaborate within WiCE with partners in and associated with the water cycle. WiCE generates knowledge and solutions for the responsible reuse of water, closing raw material loops, and water-related technologies in the energy transition. WiCE projects are conducted on local and regional scales, as well as internationally.

BTO Newsletter

The participants of the Joint Research Programme can be sure of remaining abreast of the latest developments in the field of water research and technology. Thanks to BTO Net – an own digital environment – you have access to publications, news and agendas. You also automatically receive our digital newsletter, BTO NieuwsOnline. Are you on staff at one of the participating water utilities? Then, be sure to click on to register for BTO NieuwsOnline and always stay up-to-date.

More information and contact