As the UN celebration of World Water Day in the Hague approaches, we are again reminded of the many worldwide water challenges, such as water supply and sanitation for all and safety from flooding. On the 21 and 22nd of March, specialists from the UN, government officials, scientists, policy makers and royalty will come to the Hague to discuss what next steps need to be taken. To help find a way forward, The Dutch Water Sector has listed some of its’ latest innovations and best practices.

2013 is the UN year of water cooperation. These cases are presented on the cooperation market on the 22nd of March.

1. Dutch-Indonesian cooperation for a coastal defence strategy for JakartaThe Netherlands is building long-term partnerships with other low lying delta’s, such as Vietnam, Mozambique, Bangladesh, Egypt and Indonesia. One of the projects is a Dutch-Indonesian programme for the development of a master plan to improve the flood safety for the capital Jakarta.

The city is sinking rapidly because of subsidence as the city withdraws much groundwater. To compensate for the subsidence, the master plan foresees the construction of a sea wall, but also flood risk analyses and participation programmes.

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2. Smart public private cooperation for urban water services in slum cities
A bar of soap with smart technology inside that tells you how long and when people wash their hands. Many large cities in the world develop unplanned and lack a proper water infrastructure. Unilever, the world’s second-largest consumer-products company, and three aid organisations specialized in water supply and sanitation, have joined forces in the programma Smart Water Life.

The programme aims at tailor-made services for delivery of water, hygiene and nutrition products.

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3. Clean drinking water for the slums of New Delhi
The non-governmental organisation Plan Nederland and the filter company Basic Water Needs have started a pilot project to increase the water quality for the inhabitants of slums in New Delhi. By developing and manufacturing cost effective water treatment solutions, such as the Tulip Filter, Basic Water Needs is committed to improve access to safe drinking water by lower income groups in developing countries.

Plan Nederland educates people in the slums of Delhi about the need for clean drinking water and safe water storage; increasing the demand for water filters. BWN and Plan will train local women’s groups and entrepreneurs to sell low cost water filters. This will have a positive effect on the health of people with a very low income, create jobs and opportunities for education of girls.

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4. Football for wash: Dutch football players teach 'life skills' at African schools
The Dutch Royal Dutch Football Association (KNVB) participates in the football for WASH programme, offering sustainable and improved living conditions of children attending primary schools in Kenya, Ghana and Mozambique. Famous Dutch football players as Ruud Gullit visit the schools as ‘world coaches’ to encourage sport.

These 'coaches' organise football competitions and help to build soccer fields. Additionally the ‘world coaches’ teach the school kids about personal hygiene.

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5. International student exhange programme Wetskills on water governance
Dutch universities with courses on water management participate in the Wetskills programme. Wetskills is a series of events where Dutch water-related students meet foreign students and follow lectures together, make field visits and work on innovative solutions for existing water cases.

By visiting other countries, the Dutch students experience different styles of water management, whereas the local students learn about the latest water solutions. Wetskills provides students with an ideal opportunity to gain experience with international work and to build relationships.

The next Wetskills event is to take place in Romania in April.

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6. Open source data collection on wash facilities with smart phones
Where is drinking water available? Where are descent toilets? What is the quality of the river water? In high developed countries the governments have monitoring systems to collect data on its water infrastructure and water quality. In less developed countries this data is often out dated, if available at all.

Dutch-based non-profit organization AKVO developed the open source monitoring system FLOW. The system is based on field surveys on location. Data on water resources of water facilities can be plotted in on a smart phone and transmitted to a central database. This database collects all the surveys for producing dashboards and maps. The geographical displayed information is displayed on lie, showing the latest updated situation in a certain area or country.

Akvo Flow already uses FLOW in West Africa (to monitor wells), in Ghana (to monitor water facilities), in Rwanda (to monitor break downs in the water supply).

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7. Satellite technology for more crop per drop
eLEAF is a Netherlands-based company specialized in supply irrigation related data to farmers. The company uses self-developed PiMapping technology , a GIS-tool to collect pixel accurate data from satellites, such as evapotranspiration, actual biomass, and weather forecasts. PiMapping enables e-Leaf to generate weekly updates on biomass production, water productivity, crop water requirements, root-zone soil moisture, and CO2 intake.

The updates can be used by individual farmers to reduce their water use or increase their crop yield without using more water. The updates are also used by agriculture related organizations and authorities for monitoring their irrigation programmes.

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8. Miracle granules purify waste water with up to 40% less energy
Two Dutch professors, Mark van Loosdrecht and Merle de Kreuk of Delft University of Technology, initiated a research project for water-purifying bacteria to grow in granules, instead of flocs. A granule is heavier and settles more quickly. So aerobic waste water treatment plants could do without settlement basins, reducing the footprint of the plant but, above all, reducing the use of pumps.

Van Loosdrecht en De Kreuke managed to control the growth of the bacteria, despite the ever changing conditions in waste water. They even managed to control the growth within the granule itself. The outer layer is aerobic and here nitrifying bacteria accumulate. The formed nitrate is denitrified in the anoxic inner core of the granule.

In 2012 Mark van Loosdrecht was awarded the prestigious Singaporean Lee Kuan Yew Water Prize for his remarkable research.

This spectacular biotechnology has been adopted by RoyalHaskoningDHV that uses the new granule at the hearth of the Nereda water treatment system. The first full scale Nereda municipal waste water plant was commissioned in Epe, the Netherlands in May 2012.

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9. Flood risk reduction with smart dike technology
A storm surge on the coast or a peak discharge on a river can weaken a dike. If the pressure gets too high or the soil becomes saturated with water, a dike will finally breach. Dutch water boards, engineering firms and sensor technology company have started a research programme to develop online monitoring systems that can predict such a breach based on indicators such as changing temperatures, ground movements and even sounds. Part of the programme included test runs on a test location with real dikes.

With smart dike technology a dike breach can be predicted up to 48 hours in advance. Research institute TNO and AGT International teamed up in the product development of this new sensor technology. The parties began their cooperation in China, installing a Flood Management Solution on the Yellow River. In the Netherlands TNO and AGT are involved in a smart dike project.

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10. Water foot print: 4000 liters per day
The global average water use in a household is 100 liters per day per consumer. However, when all the water is included that is needed to produce goods, the water use is much higher. The REAL water use of the average world citizens is an astonishing 4000 liters per day. This figure was first published in an article that appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (USA) in February 2012.

The authors were Arjen Hoekstra and Mesfin Mekonnen of the University of Twente in The Netherlands. Hoekstra is creator of the Water Footprint concept (2002) and sits in the Supervisory Council of the Water Footprint Network.

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Netherlands Water Partnership
The Hague, the Netherlands
+31 70 304 37 00