Theme: Safe and Healthy Drinking Water
The quality of the drinking water we provide has our highest priority. Clients must be able to rely blindly on the safety and quality of our drinking water. That is why it is our ambition to make the quality integrally measurable, at every step of the process, thus enabling us to ensure top-quality drinking water. And not just that, it is our desire to be transparent about this and to inform our clients and stakeholders accordingly. Within the theme Safe and Healthy Drinking Water, our main concern is integral control of the quality from the source to the client.
Motive for more research
The quality of water at the source
Improved measurement techniques enable us to detect micro-contaminations in groundwater sooner. In the abstracted raw water we increasingly detect drug residues, pesticides, and other substances of which the health risks are insufficiently known. In addition, we have detected that the influence of surface water on groundwater is growing, while activities in the soil (as part of energy transition) are increasing as well. Because of this, it is more difficult to predict the quality of the source, and traditional treatment methods may no longer be sufficient to maintain the desired drinking water quality.
The influence of water treatment
Many of our production sites treat the abstracted groundwater using traditional methods, such as aeration and sand filtration. In line with the European Water Framework Directive and our preference for groundwater we aim to minimize the treatment effort, while understanding optimally how this influences the water quality.
Factors in the pipeline network
After treatment and during the residence time in the pipeline, the drinking water quality can be influenced by chemical, physical and biological processes. The pipeline material (polyethylene, for example) and the growth of microorganisms may have a negative influence on the quality. The degree of understanding of the relevant processes is as yet considered insufficient, however.
Client demands transparency
Clients are demanding a greater say and increasingly require transparency regarding the quality of the drinking water we provide. Preferably at the household (or connection) level, and at any time of the day.
Objectives of this research theme
- A complete picture of the water quality and the actual risks (chemical and microbiological) at every step of the process;
- The ability to monitor and control, with sensors, the water quality at every individual step, from source to tap (and in coherence with each other);
- Gaining insight into the available margins for each individual process step;
- Transparent and clear communication about the water quality with the client and other stakeholders.
The goal of this work package is gaining insight into the performance demands regarding integral water quality, and the way in which this can be presented numerically (per process step). We want to achieve this, taking into account the means available to our clients for monitoring the water quality, as well as new techniques that have become available which allow more accurate measurements.
Measuring and monitoring
The goal of this work package is measuring and monitoring the water quality from source to tap. We want to know which technologies – such as chemical and (micro)biological screening, etc. – and measuring methods to use in determining the water quality.
Anticipating changes in water quality
The goal of this work package is predicting when to expect foreign substances in the abstracted water, what kind of substances these are, and subsequently being able to deal with them appropriately. This requires clear quality parameters to determine when we must take action.
Client interaction and health
The goal of this work package is communicating proactively, clearly and transparently about water quality with clients and stakeholders. We want to know their water quality requirements, as well as their information needs in this respect. We make a step towards our clients by directly involving them in quality-focussed research, whereby we aspire to create a win-win situation.