CONTEXT

AquaVest addresses the water scarcity challenge by developing water master plans in which the water sources available in the region are efficiëntly matched to the (growing) needs of the water users.

Fresh water scarcity

In many areas around the world, also here in The Netherlands, the supply-demand profile of fresh, clean water is changing. Lasting drought periods reduce the availability of groundwater and surface water during the warm seasons while the demand for clean and fresh water often increases in those periods. On top of this, in other areas around the world, the lack of proper sanitation infrastructure leads to severe pollution of fresh water sources.

“We must urgently scale up investments in healthy watersheds and water infrastructure, with dramatic improvements in the efficiency of water use”, said UN Secretary-General Mr. Guterres during the last World Water Day, adding that the world must anticipate and respond to climate risks at every level of water management. Moreover, wastewater should be recognised as a valuable resource.

The need for cross-sectoral collaboration

If we are to meet the (growing) water demands from all sectors while protecting natural water sources from further depletion or degradation, we will have to develop integrated water management plans in a multi-stakeholder context.

Cross-sectoral collaboration on the treatment and reuse of effluents as tailor-made water is complex. There are different interests at stake and the challenges are of social, environmental, economic and political nature.

Public sector

Water authorities are responsible for the overall water balance in the region. They make sure that groundwater extraction and replenishment remains in balance. They provide groundwater and surface water extraction permits to drinking water companies, industry and the agrisector. With increasing droughts the water authorities are more and more challenging the use of groundwater or drinking water for non-consumptive use.

Private sector

The security of water supply is of high importance for private sector water users, since a lack of water can directly impact the bottom-line. There is a growing awareness within the private sector that climate change and increasing environmental consciousness requires them to become more responsible water users. The use of groundwater or drinking water for non-consumptive use is now more and more challenged by water authorities.

Source: SEECON (2010)

Water authorities need a decision support tool that fosters constructive dialogue between the public and private sector on the efficient use and reuse of water streams present in the region. AquaVest strenghtens cross sectoral collaboration in this space by considering the interests of all stakeholders and by providing transparancy in the costs and benefits of the different system solutions and investment strategies.

“As an executive decision support tool, AquaVest offers relevant insights in the complexity of regional water systems. It provided us, as government entity, a closer look into the water issues from the perspective of the industries. This forms a good basis for discussions on circular economy and water conservation which is increasingly important with more frequent periods of drought.” Desirée Rijnders-Huisman, senior policy advisor groundwater, Province of Noord-Brabant.

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