An Integrated Project Funded by the European Commission under the Sustainable Development, Global Change and Ecosystems Thematic Priority Area.
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Contract Number: 018320
Project Cordinator: Dr. Theo van den Hoven KIWA Water Research
Project Duration: 1st January 2006 to 31st December 2010

Work Area 1 'Rethink the system'

In the future, water supply systems might undergo considerable changes, not only on a technical level, but also with respect to organisation structure, financing models and a range of other factors. In recent years several trends can be identified, for example the increased occurrence and awareness of micropollutants, the emergence of membrane filtration and privatisation of water works in some areas. WA1 “Rethink the system” identifies driving forces for change in the drinking water supply from source to tap and determines future requirements and challenges for water systems. Major driving forces and their range of uncertainty will be identified through a SEPTED dimension analysis, i.e. Socio-cultural, Economical, Political, Technological, Ecological, and Demographical developments. When future challenges are defined, the present water situation systems will be mapped against them in order to check if present systems are future-proof.



As is the case for all forecasting studies, it will not be possible to exactly predict the changes which are about to come. Instead, the most important factors leading to changes will be identified. This will be primarily based on knowledge within the consortium and on existing literature, such as Eurolimpacs, Floodside and Newater. Complementary information will be gathered through interviews with experts. Based on this information, foresights about probable future scenarios can be made, and strategies can be identified which meet the future challenges (“Adaptive strategies”). In a consecutive phase, these adaptive strategies will be tested in concrete practical cases. About four different case studies will be selected which enable to verify different aspects of the adaptive strategies. The results will be evaluated and will be used to adapt and improve the developed adaptive strategies. All of the information gathered in this Work Area will be made available for external users (through Work Area 8). Furthermore, the output of the Work Area will be used in other WAs as input for further activities or to steer research activities into the appropriate direction. An important aspect is the integration of the developed adaptive strategies into the TECHNEAU Selection Manager which will be developed within WA7.


  • Identify trends in the drinking water chain in different regions with respect to all SEPTED aspects.
  • Develop adaptive strategies in order to cope with future challenges.
  • Verify and further develop the adaptive strategies in several case studies.
  • Integrate the obtained information in TECHNEAU in order to enable steering of activities in other WA’s and as an input in the TECHNEAU Selection Manager (WA7).
  • Make the information available to a broad spectrum of external users.


The first results were gathered from the trend analysis in the different regions with respect to all SEPTED Factors, as well as factors related to organizational aspects and risks. Most trends appear to differ between the regions investigated, which leads to the preliminary conclusion that the future will require specific, tailor-made solutions for different regions. However, also some trends have been identified which occur in almost all areas, for example the increase in use of bottled water. At present, the results are evaluated and assessments on the future developments of identified trends are being made, in order to come to  adaptive strategies and recommendations for science, politics and practice.