The “Potable Reuse: The New Drinking Water Infrastructure”: EJWP2 Project with De Watergroep, Belgium

Client: De Watergroep, Belgium

EJWP2: June -September 2021

Participants: Merel Mostert, Andres Lucht, Borko Radivojevic, Manon Berge, Benjamin Hermans, Rasha Hassan

As part of their cooperation with De Watergroep in Belgium, EJWP 2 Participants last week presented their results on the project, Potable Reuse: The New Drinking Water Infrastructure. The presentation and discussion took place at the Delfland water regulation organization in the Netherlands. This meeting was part of the EJWP2 Training Week from 13 – 17 September.

Project Description

The project is based on the situation that the water sector faces numerous challenges to drinking water quantity and quality, which impacts the sustainable distribution of adequate drinking water service to households. Challenges examined in the project were interlinked with issues including climate change, topography and increasing populations.

The project topic was addressed through the following:

– Using examples from around the world to support learning and solutions

– Highlighting relevant European legislations to better explore possible solutions

– Examining the social acceptance of water reuse

– Brainstorming some potential solutions for a selected are in Flanders, Belgium


Three countries were evaluated on levels of social acceptance for water reuse: Belgium, France and Germany. The Belgian respondents are globally keener (75%) to trust reuse than the French (60%) – and Germany was at 70% of trusting respondents for indirect reuse. It was also noted that all three countries preferred indirect reuse. In general, the Belgians were indicated as being more receptive to official/governmental communications than the French. However, in both countries, a key component is to give technical information about the water treatment to the consumers. German respondents seem almost equally receptive to all conditions listed, and appeared the most receptive to political engagement and try-out at local scale.

Brainstorm session on ideal water infrastructure

EJWP2 Participants organized a brainstorm session on the ideal drinking water infrastructure with staff members of De Watergroep to further support conclusions of the project. Multiple solutions and ideas around the ideal water infrastructure were compiled to tackle future challenges, while noting that a holistic approach is needed for sustainable systems.

Infrastructure topics and ideas discussed in the brainstorming included:

· Opportunities: lower energy in infrastructure; innovations in reuse; “smart hydraulic networks with water from central and local sources; increased pump efficiencies, monitoring of water quality from various sources

· Threats: high costs of monitoring in decentralized systems; methods of maintenance; imbalances in supply & demand; questions on governance of water sources and use; storage limitations

· Solutions: storage tanks in cities; collective supply systems & water wells; hybrid systems; cost-effective methods in place; rainwater & reuse; new crops from wastewater; reduced water use; irrigation innovations

· Consequences: lower-cost production; energy from wastewater; new demand for water; more available water resources / less clients for water companies

“This project has advantages not only to parties involved – EJWP2 participants and De Watergroep – but also to society. Carrying out research on all aspects of this project was an informative process pointing to the need for innovation and inclusive thinking in the European water sector,” said Rasha Hassan, EJWP2 Participant from Spain.


In conclusions of the project results discussions, the importance was noted of an inclusive approach to adapting sustainable drinking water services. Such systems taking social, technical and natural elements into account can help enable the water sector to move forward on more practical solutions that contribute significantly to a water-smart society, and to realizing objectives of the EU Green Deal.

EJWP2 and De Watergroep will look into the possibility to share the knowledge of the project to a broader audience, so stay in tuned for more!

The results of the survey are shown in this document: Survey on the acceptability of water REUSE – Synthesis V2 EN – HK


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