Knowledge base for high-quality drinking water provision

Water company joint research

Through joint research for water companies KWR aims to provide a sustainable knowledge base efficiently. Thanks to this knowledge base, water knowledge and technology can contribute to a high-quality drinking water provision, today and into the future. As the principal implementor and coordinator of BTO, the joint research programme of the water sector, KWR provides a platform for collective research and collaboration. The translation of new insights to the companies’ own (drinking) water practice enables them to make better and sharper choices in their operational management.


Video – 02:22
Water company joint research

Investing in knowledge and technology

The joint research for water companies strives for a drinking water provision that is healthy, sustainable, efficient and advanced, while respecting nature and the environment. Jointly supported research programmes of end-users, such as water companies, constitute powerful and enduring pillars in the water sector. The Dutch government and the European Commission share the water sector’s desire to direct resources efficiently to watercycle research.

Maintaining a sustainable knowledge base is essential in meeting both current and future knowledge and technology needs. The Dutch water companies and KWR have been investing in this effort for more than forty years. And it has been fruitful. The drinking water provision in the Netherlands is among the world’s best, KWR has developed into a knowledge institute of top national and international scientific level, and our country disposes of an extensive international knowledge network.

Platform for joint research and collaboration

As principal implementor and coordinator of the joint research programme (BTO) for the Dutch water companies, De Watergroep (BE) and the branch association Vewin, KWR provides a platform for joint research and collaboration. Nowhere else in the world do water companies work so closely with each other and their knowledge institute. As a result, the water companies, KWR and (international) scientific and water-practice partners generate valuable knowledge which assists in (cost) effectively answering research questions, and in transposing scientific knowledge to practice. Together, we constitute the institutional memory for the drinking water sector. In the European context we also help on a limited scale in getting more of such programmes off the ground. We see joint research programmes as an effective example of how the fragmented (public) water sector in Europe can develop more weight.

As our largest joint research programme, BTO forms an important basis for all of our projects. Every year we carry out more than sixty BTO projects. The BTO research programme is divided into the following components:

  • 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 companies 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 BTO participants and with the water sector and national and international knowledge community.

In the joint research we collaborate on tackling ‘wicked problems’: interconnected and frequently societal issues of global resonance that can only be resolved collectively. This involves the pursuit of partnerships with different fields of expertise, organisations, sectors and countries. And we approach the issues on the basis of socio-scientific research, because collaboration is itself an expertise. Meeting each other is one of the conditions that a partnership has to satisfy if it is to blossom.

Making better and sharper choices

With the joint research KWR generates the scientific knowledge to strengthen the water companies’ ability to fulfil their legal task of supplying healthy, sustainable, efficient and advanced (drinking) water, today and into the future. It enables them to make better and sharper choices in their operational management.

A continuous supply of sufficient drinking water of impeccable quality is essential for our prosperity and well-being. We also need efficient operational management, and a sustainable management of water, resources, energy and nature in water abstraction areas. By making use of new possibilities and innovations, the challenges can be decisively addressed.


Video – 03:55
Waterbedrijven aan het woord

Participants in the Joint Water Sector Research Programme (BTO)