Europe’s water resources are increasingly under stress, characterised by a mismatch of demand for, and availability of, water resources across time and geographical space (EEA, 2009). Poor or unsuitable water quality often further reduces availability, restricts uses, and increases the costs of supply. Regions with low rainfall and high population density are prone to water stress as well as areas with intense agricultural, industrial or tourism activities. Global climate change is already exacerbating these problems with projections indicating significant and widespread impacts over the medium to long term (IPCC, 2007). These developments will inevitably lead to growing competition between different water use sectors, with high quality resources being protected and reserved for drinking water production.
Water Stress EuropeEurope’s water resources are increasingly under stress, characterised by a mismatch of demand for, and availability of, water resources across time and geographical space (j EEA, 2009). Poor or unsuitable water quality often further reduces availability, restricts uses, and increases the costs of supply. Regions with low rainfall and high population density are prone to water stress as well as areas with intense agricultural, industrial or tourism activities.
Global climate change is already exacerbating these problems with projections indicating significant and widespread impacts over the medium to long term (j IPCC, 2007). These developments will inevitably lead to growing competition between different water use sectors, with high quality resources being protected and reserved for drinking water production.
These pressures have encouraged more active consideration of alternative water sources as a strategic option to supplement water supplies and protect natural resources. Recognition of the potential role of water reuse in such a strategy is now well embedded within both European and national policy communities. Indeed recent years has seen a sense of urgency in calls for water reuse to become more widespread. It is the top listed priority area in the recently published j Strategic Implementation Plan of the European Innovation Partnership Water which drew attention to ‘limited institutional capacity to formulate and institutionalize recycling and reuse measures, a lack of financial incentives for reuse schemes, and poor public perceptions towards water reuse’.
In a similar vein, maximisation of water reuse is a specific objective of the European Blueprint for Water (COM(2012) 673) with a proposal for development of a regulatory instrument on standards for water re-use anticipated by 2015. The published report on water reuse by the j Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform notes that ‘Although investors and water utilities are becoming increasingly enthusiastic about water reuse … the capability of Europe’s water sector to deliver reuse projects is being compromised by a lack of suitable regulation, skills and public understanding’. This report also notes that ‘with appropriate investment in people, knowledge, and technology, Europe could be a global leader in this rapidly developing market.’ and highlights the ‘huge eco-innovation potential in terms of technologies and services around water recycling in industry, agriculture and urban water systems’.
The DEMOWARE outcomes will increase Europe’s ability to profit from the resource security and economic benefits of water reuse schemes without compromising human health and environmental integrity. The activities delivered through the project will support equipment and scheme designers, planners and operational staff. The programme has two central ambitions:
DEMOWARE has been developed through close collaboration between SMEs (many of which are research active), major industrial players in the European reuse sector, and several of Europe’s leading water reuse research institutions. It has also been informed by both European and national level studies as well as by consultation with major stakeholders such as the European Water Supply and Sanitation Technology Platform (WssTP) and water service & equipment providers who all urge greater coordination of efforts to overcome the barriers which constrain the emergence of a vibrant European water reuse sector.
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Due to growing population and economy, seasonal climatic conditions have changed, including extreme events as floods and droughts. This affects as a whole the availability of water resources at world level.
ICT and water efficiency is a key policy issue with potential for new research area that includes decision supporting system for the measurement of water quality and quantity including the recycling and water reuse processes.
This necessitates increased interoperability between water information systems at EU and national levels and efficiency of water resources management.
On the 19 of March 2015 the third cluster meeting entitled “ICT and for Water management” took place in Brussels. Ten FP7 and five H2020 projects participated in an event co-organized by the EC and EASME.
Netwerc H2O as Coordinator the BlueSCities project was present and chaired the session on the need to guide and educate on the use of Key Performance Indicators.
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Cities are centres of economic growth, creativity, culture and innovation and are home to an ever increasing urban population. Cities are also producers, consumers, and sources of waste disposal that cause land change and a host of global environmental problems and are highly dependent on other cities and hinterlands to supply materials (including water), energy, and to dispose of waste (Grimm et al. 2008; Bai 2007). The blueprint to safeguard Europe’s water resources fails to underline the importance of cities as the challenges and solutions regarding sustainable water use, energy and resource recovery will predominantly reside in cities (European green city index 2009; Engel et al. 2011; UN 2012; UNEP 2012). The European Innovation Partnership on Smart Cities and Communities (2013) highlights ideas on how to best harness innovative technologies, innovative funding mechanisms and innovative public private partnerships. The Smart Cities EIP highlights actions needed to create the right framework conditions to make our cities better places to live and to do business in, to reduce energy use, carbon emissions and congestion. To date smart cities have principally focused on energy, transport and ICT. However in Horizon2020 Water Challenge 4 it has been carefully noted that water and waste need, as sectors to be integrated within the strategic implementation plan of Smart Cities.
Smart cities can provide local solutions to global issues when cities develop a coherent long-term integrated strategy and implementation plan on transport, energy, ICT, solid waste, climate adaptation (heat islands, urban flooding and water scarcity), water supply and waste water treatment. People in urban environments need green and blue space and healthy, attractive and liveable cities should become the long-term goal for municipal stakeholders in Europe.
Much has been said of local solutions providing the key to global issues. There are examples of successful actions where the involvement of many and varied local stakeholders through the work of municipal and regional administrations has resulted in the direct participation of numerous sectors of society in international issues. These have notably benefited the development of coordinated national and international policy creation, enabled the effective exchange of best practices, the identification of research and development gaps and have resulted in a greater capability for the widening of policy preparation and implementation whilst simultaneously addressing the idiosyncrasies of individual regional issues. The Covenant of Mayors promoted by the European Commission or the LEED programme of the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are just two examples of long-term vision mechanisms which have resulted in improved citizen awareness, efficient market growth and essential knowledge transfer mechanisms within the dynamics of a Green Growth Economy.
The project Blueprints for Smart Cities aims to develop the methodology for a coordinated approach to the integration of the water and waste sectors within the ‘Smart Cities and Communities’ EIP. It will identify synergies in accordance with Smart City ideology and compliment other priority areas such as energy, transport and ICT. It will seek to contribute to the achievement of the 20-20-20 objectives.
Smart cities can provide local solutions to global issues when cities develop a long-term integrated strategy and implementation plan on transport, energy, ICT, solid waste, climate adaptation (heat islands, urban flooding and water scarcity), water supply and waste water treatment. There have been excellent actions where the involvement of local stakeholders coordinated by municipal and regional administrations has resulted in a positive local influence on international issues whilst enhancing science and evidence-based decision making in the field of water. This is the essence of the bottom-up approach. We, as a society are faced with a series of challenges including the increase of the global urban population, competing demands for scarce water resources, resources reduction, and the production of solid waste. In order to provide answers to these crises, and building on the hitherto successful implementation of the EIP Water Action Group: CITY BLUEPRINTS, the current proposal aims to:
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Recently the European Commission has selected POWER (Political and sOcial awareness on Water EnviRonmental challenges) as one of its Horizon 2020 projects. POWER is a user-driven project to share the knowledge and experience of water scarcity, security, quality and water consumption-related issues in different EU local authorities, thus creating an important tool for EU water policy. Digital Social Platforms (DSP) will be an important tool to for informed decision making and public engagement. The project will be coordinated by Professor Paul Fleming, Director of Sustainable Development at the De Montfort University in the UK. Part of the POWER project are Richard Elelman (CTM Centre Tecnològic) and Prof. Kees van Leeuwen (Copernicus Institute and KWR).
In recent years, important environmental challenges have been addressed by more socially-conscious approaches. What is described as social innovation can provide a vital impetus to the successful implementation of environmental policy. Four cities with varying water goals are part of the project and used as case studies. The City of Milton Keynes (UK) aims to promote water consumption reduction, Sabadell (ES) wants to promote improved water quality by the active involvement of citizens, Leicester has the goal to promote awareness regarding the impacts of extreme weather events such as surface flooding and Jerusalem (IL) aims to promote water conservation and improve awareness regarding water quality. The activities in the project will be followed by a wide range of cities, members of Netwerc H2O with the aim to maximize the societal impact of the tools and deliverables that will be developed within the POWER project.
CTM and KWR are together with the Utrecht University mainly concerned with the environmental, political and social impacts and embedding of the Digital Social Platforms developed within POWER project. POWER also leans on baseline assessments, i.e., City Blueprints that have been carried out for 45 municipalities and regions in 27 countries, mainly in Europe. These assessments done by KWR showed that cities vary considerably with regard to their water management. This is also captured in the Blue City Index® (BCI), the geometric mean of 25 indicators comprising the City Blueprint®. The City Blueprint is key as first step within the POWER project to identify the most important problems, prioritization, identifying following cities with similar water problems and clustering best practices.
New EU project POWER published best practices on water management for four cities
POWER, the EU funded initiative on political and social awareness on water environmental challenges, published an analysis of best practices in city water management. Rapid urbanisation, climate change, and inadequate maintenance of water and waste infrastructures in cities may lead to flooding, water scarcity, water pollution, adverse health effects, and rehabilitation costs that may overwhelm the resilience of cities. These megatrends pose urgent challenges in cities as the cost of inaction is high.
The report is focusing on issues of how communities in general could improve effectiveness and enhance water management, taking into account the expenses involved as well as the likely effectiveness in the city and the neighbourhood. In the document the authors have listed best practices in city water management with regard to each issue of the pilot cities:
– Flood risk (pilot city Leicester)
– Water scarcity (pilot city Milton Keynes)
– Variables related to water conservation (pilot city Jerusalem)
– Water quality (pilot city Sabadell)
To download the complete report, please proceed to POWER project website at: www.power-h2020.eu
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Twitter: @powerh2020 Please follow it.
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Work carried out by Siemens on the Green City Index has shown the challenges we face in cities and how important it is to involve the civil society and private parties to create success. The EU project TRUST (Transitions to the Urban Water Services of Tomorrow; http://www.trust-i.net/index.php) also demonstrated that cities and regions can improve their UWCS quickly and significantly if they are willing to share their best practices among each other and how important it is to further involve the civil society and companies to tackle the problems.
Over the last years, the project team has developed a process, a method and an IT tool to provide a City Blueprint as baseline assessment for the sustainability of UWCS of cities and regions. Details about the methodology and first results from 11 cities can be found here. What needs to be done in the frame of this EIP Water Action Group is to develop and implement further initiatives: (a) by creating awareness among potential partners (cities and regions), (b) by networking, (c) by sharing best UWCS practices among cities, and by (d) further development of tools that can facilitate implementation, such as a simple UWCS cost- benefit tool to allow cities and regions to provide their own solutions to the urban water challenges ahead. On 1 February 2015 the City Blueprint activities will be expanded in the Horizon 2020 BlueSCities project (description and letters of support are given below).
The Action Group organises interventions at the local level to overcome barriers in the water related governance systems that hinder the development and uptake of innovations in municipal water management.
More transparent governance and communication on urban water management options and technologies will enable a more rapid introduction of state-of-the-art technologies and will further improve the involvement of the civil society and the private sector in cities and would strengthen the collaboration between cities.City Blueprints will establish a network (learning alliance) of European cities to share their best practices on Urban Water Cycle Services (UWCS) in their effort for a transition towards improving the sustainability of the UWCS of their city/municipality/region. Innovation in water governance may enable and accelerate the application of state-of-the-art UWCS technology. In addition, the Action Group will drive bringing innovative models of water governance, aligned with technical innovations, to the market.
The project team is led by NetwercH2O and KWR Watercycle Research Institute and involves a wide range of knowledge providers, administrative bodies, networks and regional authorities for the development of the project:
Fundació CTM Centre Tecnològic, Adventech, University of Utrecht – Copernicus Institute of Sustainable Development, Siemens, ERRIN, Red Aragon 7 PM, ZINNAE, AMGA, PARAGON EUROPE, USBMA, REGIONE PUGLIA, ACQUEDOTTO PUGLIESE, AUTORITA’ IDRICA PUGLIESE, De Montfort University, Witteveen en Bos, Deltares, ENEA, REDINN, LEITAT, DEMOWARE CONSORTIUM, World Bank, The State of Israel.
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A consortium of 14 academic institutions and key partners across the nation is addressing the challenges that threaten urban water systems in the United States and around the world.
With support from a $12 million award from the National Science Foundation, Colorado State University leads the effort to establish the Urban Water Innovation Network (UWIN). The mission of UWIN is to create technological, institutional, and management solutions to help communities increase the resilience of their water systems and enhance preparedness for responding to water crises.
UWIN builds on long-standing programs at CSU for research and training, and trusted leadership in all facets of water resources. These programs include urban water conservation, sustainable urban drainage systems and flood control, drought management, pollution control, water resources planning and management, ecological engineering, climate sciences and urban biodiversity.
Mazdak Arabi, associate professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at CSU, serves as the director of UWIN. Other CSU faculty involved with UWIN include professors Sybil Sharvelle, Brian Bledsoe, Neil Grigg, Jorge Ramirez, Dan Baker, and Scott Denning from the CSU College of Engineering, and LeRoy Poff with the Department of Biology.
According to the 2014 Global Risks Perception Survey by the World Economic Forum, water crises are the top global risk to the viability of communities throughout the world. From the crippling droughts and water shortages in the West to the devastating floods in the East and South, water systems in the U.S. have been impacted by changes in climate, demographics, and other pressures. Our absolute reliance on water is why Americans express greater concern about threats to water than about any other environmental issue and why more than half of all Americans worry a great deal about it, according to latest Gallup poll of environmental concerns.
Extreme events and global climate change can have profound impacts on water security, shattering the most vulnerable communities and instilling enormous costs on governments and economies. Effective response to these challenges requires transitioning to both technological and management solutions that protect water systems from pressures and enhance their resilience.
Water-sensitive design for resilient cities
The vision of UWIN is to create an enduring research network for integrated water systems and to cultivate champions of innovation for water-sensitive urban design and resilient cities. The integrated research, outreach, education and participatory approach of UWIN will produce a toolbox of sustainable solutions by simultaneously minimizing pressures, enhancing resilience to extreme events, and maximizing co-benefits. These benefits will reverberate across other systems, such as urban ecosystems, economies and arrangements for environmental justice and social equity.
The network will establish six highly connected regional urban water sustainability hubs in densely populated regions across the nation to serve as innovation centers, helping communities transition to sustainable management of water resources. Strategic partnerships and engagement with other prominent U.S. and international networks will extend UWIN’s reach to more than 100 cities around the world. Key UWIN partners and collaborators include the Water Environment Research Foundation (WERF), the Urban Sustainability Directors Network (USDN), and the Network for Water in European Regions and Cities (NETWERC H2O).
This innovative and adaptive research approach will ultimately produce an Urban Water Sustainability Blueprint, outlining effects and tradeoffs associated with sustainable solutions for cities of all sizes. It will also provide steps and guidance for action based on the collective knowledge gained by the research and the collaborative approach of the SRN. The Blueprint will be rigorously vetted by regional stakeholders across the U.S. and the global urban water community.
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Netwerc H2O is one of the principal organisations responsible for the CITY BUEPRINT ATLAS which will be printed by the European Commission. At meetings at the Joint Research Centre in Ispra (Italy) and in Lisbon it was decided that the Atlas is to be an accesible and entertaining publication which will illustrate the comparative water management challenges faced by 45 cities from around the World. The Atlas, which will be printed in A3 format, will also offer an opportunity for the municipal administrations involved to publicise the principal features of their cities including the main industries, touristic attractions and their history. The CITY BLUEPRINT ATLAS is to be published at the end of 2016, and will be presented simultaneously in Brussels, and the 45 cities which feature in this unique book.
Netwerc H2O is one of the nine European Water platforms which forms part of the The EU Water Alliance, an informal coalition representing more than 500 organisations across the entire value chain of water stakeholders. The EU WATER ALLIANCE has had a number of meetings with a number of European Commissionersin order to discuss the priorities for water under the Juncker Commission (2014‐2019).
The Water Alliance developed these key messages for the new Commissioners highlighting the importance of water to the European economy, environment and society.
– The sustainable management of Europe’s water resources is essential to ensure a resilient Energy Union and a forward looking Climate Change policy. The actual importance of water is often diluted out by the fact that water shows up in so many different sectors of society. It is only when one starts looking at the support from the water sector to all other sectors of the economy that one starts realizing its quintessential position for jobs, growth and investment.
– Europe has one of the longest track records in water management in the World and is still a global industrialleader in terms of service provision and technology development. This history has also led to Europe havinga wide spectrum of leading expertise in the various aspects of water resource management. Hundreds ofEuropean Institutions, public and private water service providers, SMEs, engineering and consultingcompanies have developed and continue to develop highly technical concepts to address water problems inthe EU and around the globe.
– With the Water Framework Directive, the Floods Directive and related policies, the EU has one of the mostambitious and challenging pieces of water legislation in the world, thus providing a unique regulatory driverfor innovation in the water‐dependent economy, offering us a competitive advantages comparing to otherregions.
The EU Water Alliance highlights the following key issues for the water sector in Europe:
1. The overriding importance of the water sector for smart, sustainable and inclusive growth has to bereflected as a implementation of a polluter-pays principle, and the promotion of sustainable water management as a driver for a circular and greenvital and cross‐cutting theme in systemic research and innovation policies and financinginstruments. Water needs to be integrated within other EU policies through water‐energy‐food‐landresourcesnexuses.
2. The European Innovation Partnership on Water as a strategic driver for systemic changes in the European water sector has to be reinforced, and adequately resourced. Closer collaboration between all Innovation Partnerships has to be fortified.
3. The EU water policy should be based on resource efficiency and recovery, pollution source control via full economy stimulating industrial symbiosis.
4. The principle of cost recovery and price transparency needs to be ensured and the value of water in all its dimensions needs to be recognised.
5. Regulation and voluntary incentives on water stewardship should go hand in hand. EU policies need to ensure that water is taken into account along the whole value chain across theproduction/product/service cycle.
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Organised by the Joint Research Centre (the European Commission’s science service), NETWERC H2O, The Network for Water in European Regions and Cities and the partners of the European funded project, BlueSCities, the two day workshop entitled, ‘Winning-by-Twinning’ held in Dubrovnik recently investigated the importance of the role of local administrations in resolving international environmental issues. In order to provide answers, and build on the hitherto successful implementation of the EIP Water Action Group: CITY BLUEPRINTS, the workshop aimed to ensure improved exchange synergies between cities that had been involved in the CITY BLUEPRINT project and cities who are new to the concept. The cities were encouraged to assess the current situation, and were shown how to employ tools for integration and implementation, stakeholder engagement and international networking whilst emphasising the dialogue between different levels of public administration and the different sectors engaged.
The culmination of the event was when the participants were invited to sign a joint document stating their willingness to work together in future actions. The document has been created as the DUBROVNIK DECLARATION OF INTENT and the signatories will be known as the DUBROVNIK GROUP. It is hoped that what happened in the Adriatic city will prove to be the beginning of an important international alliance in the issue of water.
To date a number of cities and regions have or are in the process of signing said document which has aroused the interest of a number of supranational and national entities. One of the first cities to sign the Declaration was Amman, the capital of Jordan, together with London, Istanbul, Budapest, Cluj, Galatie, Larissa, Manresa, Dubrovnik County and Sf. Gheorghe. Other municipalities and regions are currently in the process of signing and implementing a process in which Amman has taken the lead.
Jordan SMEs under the leadership of Lina Al Dasouqie and the Greater Amman Municipality (GAM), led by Zaidoun Elgasem (Vice-President of NETWERC H2O) have already commenced the Science Café and School Prize approach in their city with some excellent results, reaching a wide community of both university students (Science cafés) and school children (School Prize). So successful has the action been, that students at three major Jordanian Universities are disseminating the action to their home towns and villages. Children have been encouraged to consider the water problems facing their region and then put into drawings their feelings. The drawings will be included in those to be considered for publication in the forthcoming Pan-European Atlas of Urban Water Management of the European Commission and will form part of an exhibition to be held in Amman Town Hall on the 18th of February, 2016.
Read the Declaration and involve your city in the creation of public water awareness. It’s easy, cost-free and vitally important!
The European Commission has published the Urban Water Atlas for Europe edited jointly by NETWERC H2O, The Joint Research Centre of the European Commission, EURECAT-CTM of Catalonia, KWR and the Horizon 2020 project, BlueSCities. Last week, at the Ministerial Meeting...Read More