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EUROPEAN COMMISSION C ommun ity res earch

Knowledge Generation and Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Water Management Concepts and tools developed and applied in the context of European Community funded research projects

Topic Session FT3.04 organised by the European Commission, Directorate General for Research in the framework of the 4th World Water Forum in Mexico City 19th March 2006, 14:30-16:30, Centro Banamex, Montejo House, Room No. 3 Knowledge Generation and Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Water Management


European Union Research and Technological Development activities in the field of water – A general background During the last decades, research and technological development have contributed to our societies’ advancement in awareness, knowledge and policy insight of the role water plays in our environmental and socio-economic welfare, and the need to proactively defend the sustainability of our aquatic ecosystems. This deeper understanding, combined with scientific underpinning of the diverse impacts of climate change and all other global change processes, have resulted in a wider recognition of the urgent need for new concepts and tools to support a paradigm shift in the way we plan, manage and use water resources in all aspects of our every day life. Policy, regulatory systems, institutions and governance, knowledge management systems and promotion of technological ingenuity, social acceptability and affordability are some of the main elements to be taken into account when trying to devise solutions to this complicated equation of a sustainable paradigm shift in water resources management. New conceptual pillars have emerged embracing sustainability, risk assessment and risk management, in an effort to harness uncertainty and better simulate real life conditions and - global and local - ecosystem processes. It has also become evident that the enormous investment in knowledge needed for transformation and harmonised change, adaptive to local water conditions, has to be pursued through wider multi-stakeholder collaborations also beyond national or continental borders. Water research has been a major component of successive European Union’s environmental research programmes. Over the last 30 years, many interdisciplinary research teams, supported in the context of these programmes, have successfully collaborated in increasing the understanding of the impact of diverse ecological and socio-economic processes on the water cycle, and in developing suitable observational capacity, technological solutions and decision support systems towards a more knowledge based approach to water resources management. In a nutshell, while earlier European research programmes put emphasis on the development of scientific knowledge to support environmental quality standards and objectives, over the last years emphasis has been shifted to multidisciplinary research to support a transformation towards knowledge based integrated water resources management in the context of global change. The 5th Community Research Framework Programme (FP5, 1998-2002), with 250 mi Euro invested in 186 projects, represented a turning point in the collective European water research efforts. During its implementation strategic emphasis was attached to integrated water resources management, based on multi-disciplinary/stakeholder problem solving approaches and support to relevant EU policies, and in particular the Water Framework and associated directives and the EU Strategy for Sustainable Development. The 6th Community Research Framework Programme (FP6, 2002-2006) consolidates further the acquired knowledge, by funding research in new concepts, strategies and tools for the mitigation of global change impact on water resources in Europe and worldwide, in conformity with the vision of 2

the European Research Area. FP6 is seeking to mobilise wider and lasting partnerships among knowledge communities in Europe and international co-operation partner countries, building on existing foundations of decades of scientific cooperation in water research. Support provided to the objectives of the EU Water Initiative (EU WI) is a typical example of this new approach. Moreover, FP6 is promoting research on innovative water technologies, which are necessary for achieving Europe’s sustainable growth and competitiveness. In this context it has facilitated the establishment of the Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WSSTP), which is one of the European Technology Platforms established soon after the launching of the European Environment Technology Action Plan (ETAP). The overall objective of this technology platform is the definition of a Strategic Research Agenda and an Implementation Plan for sustainable innovative technologies to address the global challenges of ensuring safe and secure water supply for different uses and sanitation services, within the framework of integrated water resources management. Moreover, this technology platform shall aim to promote step changes in the technological capacity of the European water industry, for supporting and strengthening its competitiveness in the world market, and increasing its capacity towards more effective contribution to the relevant Millennium Development Goals. The WSSTP Strategic Research Agenda provides the main contribution of ideas for the next 7th Framework Programme (2007-2013) in the field of water research. The Directorate-General for Research, Environmental Technologies and Pollution Prevention Unit, having recognized the importance of continuously communicating results of past and on-going work as well as future perspectives, decided to organize a topic session on Innovative Water Technologies in Europe. The aim of this session is to better articulate, for researchers, policy makers and water practitioners, the multi-disciplinary and multi-stakeholder concepts and tools for sustainable water resources management developed in the context of projects funded under the Community Research Framework Programmes, to discuss lessons and experiences for the application of innovative technologies and present the proposed vision and strategic research agenda of the Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WSSTP). The content of supporting presentations related to local actions benefiting from Community Research Framework Programme investment, which is the core theme of the forum ‘Local Actions for a Global Challenge’, is presented in the following pages: More information: - European Environment Technology Action Plan (ETAP): - EU Water Initiative (EUWI): • • - Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WSSTP):

Knowledge Generation and Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Water Management


FLOODRELIEF Local Action ID: LA1784 Forecasting flood events: European technology at the leading edge Real-time flood forecasting systems, which link weather forecasts, the state of the river catchments, river discharges and water levels, can be used to respond to floods as they occur and to reduce their costs in terms of lives, property and the breakdown of infrastructure. In comparison to construction of major flood protection works such as dams, dikes and polders, flood forecasting is cost effective and the environmental impacts are minimal. More importantly, when used for flood warning these systems can save lives. By using new technologies to improve flood forecasting we can forecast floods ahead of time rather than clearing up afterwards. Current flood forecasting and warning systems have several limitations, such as insufficient lead-time to provide accurate flood warnings, inadequate spatial and temporal resolution of the real-time rainfall observations and forecasts for flood producing storm and little integration of different sources of forecast information. Moreover their ability to consider the uncertainties in estimating and forecasting precipitation and flood discharges is very limited, their application at regional level is also limited and the costs of improving forecasting may be prohibitive. European research projects like FLOODRELIEF addressed these limitations by developing and demonstrating a new generation of flood forecasting methodologies, which will advance present capabilities and accuracies. These technologies have been also evaluated and tested in two highly flood prone regional basins, one in Poland and one in the United Kingdom, demonstrating the benefits of flood forecasting innovations for saving lives and properties. Karsten HAVNØ Organisation: DHI Water & Environment, Denmark Position: Research Director E-mail address: Website:


Knowledge Generation and Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Water Management


Anammox® Local Action ID: LA1782 Waste Water Treatment – New technological concepts and processes With the Anammox technology, which is based on the recently-discovered biological reaction of anaerobic ammonium oxidation (ammonium + nitrite leading to nitrogen gas, without the need for a carbon source) - ammonium can be more effectively removed from wastewater, thus addressing a key issue in wastewater and sludge management. The Anammox technology is being successfully demonstrated on full scale in Rotterdam. This demonstration project is a milestone in cost effective and sustainable wastewater treatment. Anammox technology presents the following advantages over conventional treatment: • no additional chemicals are required, such as methanol as electron donor • power consumption is reduced by 60% • CO2 emission is reduced by ca. 90% • no emission of harmful compounds such as nitrous oxide (N2O) • excess sludge production is reduced up to 90% • high-rate process requiring less equipment and less space • substantial savings on both operational and equipment costs After the University of Delft had successfully demonstrated the process on lab scale, Paques BV has obtained a worldwide exclusive license on the technology. In 2002 the first full scale Anammox reactor was erected at the municipal wastewater treatment plant of Waterboard Hollandse Delta (WSHD formerly ZHEW) in Rotterdam. The Anammox reactor is treating reject water from the sludge digestion plant. This reject water has a high ammonium concentration of around 1 g/l. Before, this stream was treated by a Sharon reactor alone, in which the ammonium was oxidized to nitrite and subsequently denitrified by addition of methanol. Now the Anammox reactor is placed to treat the effluent of this Sharon reactor. The reactor has a volume of 72 m3 and a capacity of removing 500 kg nitrogen per day. Now that the Anammox technology has been successfully demonstrated, the process becomes available for market-wide application. Thanks to this technology the nitrogen can be removed with cost savings up to three times compared to conventional treatment and with a big improvement in sustainability. The development of the ANAMMOX® technology was financially supported through the Community research Framework Programme ICON. Tom VEREIJKEN Organisation: Paques B.V., the Netherlands Position: Senior Researcher E-mail address: Website: 6

Knowledge Generation and Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Water Management


CARE-W and CARE-S Local Action ID: LA1788 Asset management – Sound decision making and planning for sustainable investment in operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of buried water infrastructure Sustainable water resources management and the environmental, socioeconomic and financial welfare, which it brings to our societies, have always been inextricably linked to good asset management, achieved through sound investment planning and efficient operations and maintenance decision-making. The challenge of achieving this is of global proportions, both in terms of the extent and the scale of the improvements and the investment required. The principles of a sound, sustainable approach to asset management, based on understanding asset condition and performance, levels of service and risk are universal and the lessons learned easily transferable between regions. Quality of asset management shall condition not only the quality and cost of water and sanitation services in developed countries but the chances for increasing safe and sustainable access to these types of services in developing countries. Effective management of infrastructure assets is central to achieving sustainable water resources management but it also presents important challenges, especially as the majority is buried underground. In short, the challenge to the asset manager is to rehabilitate the right pipe, in the right way, at the right time. Predicting, assessing and timely response to infrastructure asset failure have always been formidable and cumbersome tasks; an interdisciplinary science in its own right of which the complexities are still to be revealed. It involves expertise ranging from materials science and chemistry to structural engineering and advanced statistical theories. Interdisciplinary approaches, founded on sustainability and risk based planning, are the order of the day. Climate change impact and changes in water consumption patterns, the need for advanced and accessible technologies to provide essential (realtime or historical) diverse data needed to support such an approach and the technological tools for implementing proposed solutions are all indications of the scale of the work ahead. At present, there is a wide recognition of the need for scientific breakthroughs in approaches which reduce the need for new or replacement assets, and minimise their whole life costs. These include technological tools to improve our understanding, detection, assessment, prioritisation and management of the risk of asset failure and new methods to construct, install, maintain, replace and renew existing assets. For example, using methods based on trenchless or minimum disturbance solutions. Obviously, the new skills necessary for end-users to engage with these new approaches cannot be overemphasized. Undeniably, over the last two decades progress in IT and sensor technology has increased processing, problem detection and feedback capability providing a better foundation for dealing with asset management complexities. Cognisant of these challenges, the Community Framework Programme has, for a number of years, been investing in asset management related research; CARE-W and CARE-S are typical examples of such projects. Both projects have been part of the CityNet project cluster of six individual research and development projects (2001-2005), funded by the European Union under 8

the 5th Framework Programme. They address the entire area of integrated urban water management (water supply, sewerage, drainage) including the urban/rural interfaces (raw water sources, receiving waters, groundwater). The cluster embraces 47 research institutions and 56 end-users across Europe including one in Australia. Will WILLIAMS Organisation: Water Research Center plc, United Kingdom Position: Director of Asset Management E-mail address: Websites:

Knowledge Generation and Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Water Management


MULINO Local Action ID: LA1783 Integrated Water Resources Management – Developing decision support tools for promoting interaction between researchers and various stakeholders Addressing the complex multi-sectoral problem of water resources quantity and quality management at catchment and river basin scale requires the development of flexible, adaptive and educational decision support tools, which provide a common foundation for interaction between researchers, water authorities and other interested stakeholders. By integrating the environmental and socio-economic modelling techniques with Geographical Information System functionalities and multi-criteria decision aids, MULINO DSS (mDSS) aspires to be a multilingual operational tool, which meets the needs of European water authorities towards the implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). By combining a transparent definition of the decision making context, mDSS contributes to creating a common understanding and promoting communication on sustainable water resources management and provides a valuable tool for stakeholder engagement, social learning and collaborative decision-making. The MULINO methodology has been applied at a variety of scales and issues. For example, it has been used in Romania to evaluate alternative agricultural production systems with a view to optimising environmental and socio-economic parameters such as sediment loads, nitrate fluxes and farmers’ income. In Portugal, it has been employed as a tool to assess strategic options for dam management in the context of water scarcity and competing use of water from various economic sectors. In United Kingdom, it has found another application in examining a range of options for the sustainable allocation of water and the preservation of ecological flow requirements. In Belgium, it has supported the decision-making process for locating water holding reservoirs and stormwater basins to reduce the risk of flooding. In Italy, mDDS was used in the context of ground water overexploitation due to extensive irrigation and of reducing nitrate loads from agricultural runoff providing alternative options for both naturalists and hydraulic engineers to choose the most efficient water management strategy. Last but not least, MULINO was also tested at the European scale evaluating alternative scenarios for agricultural policy and the implementation of the European Union’s Nitrate Directive. Carlo GIUPPONI Organisation: Università degli Studi di Milano and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Italy Position: Associated Professor E-mail address: Website:


Programme of the Session 14:30 – 14:35 Introduction of the session by the Chairman 14:35 – 15:35 Presentation of Local Actions

• Forecasting flood events: European technology at the leading edge Karsten HAVNØ, Research Director, DHI Water & Environment, Denmark • Integrated Water Resources Management: Developing decision support tools for promoting interaction between researchers and various stakeholders Carlo GIUPPONI, Associated Professor, Università degli Studi di Milano and Fondazione Eni Enrico Mattei, Italy • Asset management: Sound decision making and planning for sustainable investment in operation, maintenance and rehabilitation of buried water infrastructure Will WILLIAMS, Director of Asset Management, Water Research Centre plc, United Kingdom • Waste Water Treatment: New technological concepts and processes Tom VEREIJKEN, Senior Researcher, Paques, the Netherlands

15:35 – 16:20 High Level Panel Discussion • How technological advancements may contribute to the sustainable management of water resources worldwide, confronting different experiences in countries at different stages of development and looking at the barriers of any nature that slow down the diffusion of the best available solutions and the growth of technological capabilities. Panel Members: Cristina GUTIÉRREZ-CORTINES (Member of European Parliament; Member of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety), Patrick CAIRO (Senior Vice-President of United Water/Suez), Rivka KFIR (Chief Executive Office of South Africa’s Water Research Commission), Michel DUTANG (Director Research, Development and Technology of Veolia Environment), Claude ROULET (Senior Advisor of Schlumberger Water Services and Chairman of the Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform), Eng. Germán MARTÍNEZ SANTOYO (Chief Executive Sistema de Aguas de la Ciudad de México) 16:20 – 16:30 Keynote Speech: Technological innovation for sustainable water management Andrea TILCHE, European Commission, Directorate General for Research Head of Unit ‘Environmental technologies and Pollution Prevention’.

In addition, further information and dissemination activities shall take place around Pavilion No. 40 reserved by the European Commission, Directorate General for Research to this effect.

Knowledge Generation and Innovative Technologies for Sustainable Water Management


Contact us: Andrea TILCHE, Head of Unit (

Panagiotis BALABANIS, Senior Programme Officer (

Zissimos VERGOS, Programme Officer (

European Commission DG RTD I.2 – Environmental Technologies and Pollution Prevention B – 1049 Brussels, Belgium Website :


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