The drinking water sector strives to increase the integration of technological innovations with the underground drinking water infrastructure. This integration usually progresses slowly due to the understandable conservatism in dealing with a functioning drinking water infrastructure. Drinking water is a matter of public concern, and any risks in compromising water quality or water supply must be avoided. Moreover, accessing the underground infrastructure is a cost-prohibitive endeavour. For these reasons, a high degree of confidence in a technological innovation is necessary before introducing it into a real, working drinking water distribution system.

TUBES testing facility

The TUBES facility is constructed to serve as an intermediate testing facility for testing new technologies and operation methodologies before rolling them out in real, functioning drinking water distribution systems. This facility at KWR is a condensed and realistic representation of the Dutch drinking water distribution network. This is reflected in the composition of the elements comprising it (diameters, materials) and in the achievable hydraulic conditions (pressures, flow rates). TUBES’ labyrinth-like layout with multiple bends, joints, and appurtenances is a deliberate choice: it helps TUBES serve as a testing ground for emerging technologies that would have to navigate through a distribution network. Efforts are underway to construct a digital twin of the TUBES facility which will incorporate data recording and opportunities to control the facility.

Testing and researching asset management and technological innovations

The TUBES facility offers opportunities for various types of applications:

  • Testing asset management strategies. Before acquiring new technologies or trying emerging technologies in real distribution networks, assessing the technology without risks of contaminating or interrupting drinking water supply is an attractive option. Watching a technology live in action would allow one to determine the business case for tactical asset management accurately.
  • Technological innovations. Testing innovations at high technological readiness levels in a controlled test environment is a valuable way to gauge the functionality of a product prior to commercial rollout. Moreover, demonstrations can be hosted at the facility enabling fruitful conversations with potential end-users.
  • Research: For research at lower technological readiness levels (theoretical models, digital twins, measurement techniques in nascent development phases), TUBES is a suitable playground for benchmarking purposes.

Using the TUBES facility

KWR will gladly collaborate with interested parties in helping them answer pressing questions using the TUBES facility. More technical information about the facility is available in the TUBES technical characteristics linked below.


TUBES provides easy access to a realistic drinking water distribution network.