Achieving wider uptake of water-smart solutions

Start date project: 15-05-2020
Expected end date: 15-05-2024

Keywords research project: Water-smart solutions, Sustainability, Circularity, Metabolic modelling, Resource recovery, Nutrient recovery, Water reuse

Research objectives

TU Delft will be working closely with Waternet and NPSP to develop a new bio-composite material made of by-products of water and wastewater treatment. The goal is to develop a new framework for circularity and efficiency assessment and optimisation of symbiotic solutions such as the one mentioned above. The approach will be based on metabolic modelling of water systems and will be tested on case studies from various countries.

Project outline

With several technological options available for water-smart solutions, it is very important to have a selecting and designing methodology developed. This will allow decision makers to weigh the pros and cons of a given intervention and discuss all assumptions explicitly. This methodological framework will be covering all aspects to be considered, like economics, environmental & social impacts, governance, assets, and others, before making a decision.

The methodology will be based on metabolic modelling of water systems and rely on tools like Life Cycle Assessment, Material Flow Analysis, Cost Benefit Analysis, among others.

This research will result in a new methodological framework with its own set of indicators and methods. This will be a tool in the hands of decision makers to be able to choose the most sustainable interventions for water management.

Scientific relevance

There are already a few frameworks available and countless indicators used for sustainability assessment in literature. However, several concerns remain nevertheless such as choice of indicators, the amount of data required for calculating them, their coverage of important criteria, and data uncertainty to name a few. Furthermore, often these frameworks are too generic in nature and have only been modified slightly to serve the field of water management. This research will seek to make improvements in assessment quality by developing a methodology especially suited for water management.

Societal relevance

Better decision making in the water sector will lead to a more sustainable system. This would mean lower environmental impact, possibly even a contribution to regeneration of natural capacities, reliable water supply, health risk minimization and sensible economics.