Water scarcity and shortages in times of climate change have the potential to limit the ability for economies and societies to function effectively. The use of wastewater (WW) on an agricultural and industrial-scale offers a potential solution to address growing water stresses. However, its effective uptake is often hindered by complex factors ranging from technical capability and capacity to public acceptance. So far, research has mainly focused on efforts to enhance WW treatment technologies rather than focusing on its diffusion into applications across wider society as part of a smart water management strategy. Nevertheless, despite the progress in water reuse technologies, the market has not been able to follow the same speed, and industries lag behind in including technology into their value chain and use water reuse as part of a smart water management strategy. Thus, there is a growing need to enhance the adoption of fit-for-purpose water reuse in the industrial/agricultural sector.
The project SMART-WaterDomain serves as a bridge in technology and know-how among the IT sector, industry, and the community, addressing the gap between theoretical technical capabilities and the actual application in socio-political and cultural environments. The key objective of the project is to develop a systematic framework to facilitate the uptake of smart reuse of wastewater (WW) resources and serve as an assessment mechanism for companies to integrate these techniques in their value chains. In this context, SMART-WaterDomain aims to contribute to the implementation of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The SMART-WaterDomain will put a particular emphasis on elaborating how an increased uptake of reused wastewater in industrial/agricultural value chains can serve as a technique for reducing demands for freshwater, equalising the distribution of water to reflect global demographic changes, and increase environmental resilience. With pilot studies carried out across Europe (e.g., Germany, Poland, Slovakia) and Japan, the project will engage in utility operational framework development with critical stakeholders to produce digital decision support and monitoring tools that utilises real-time data and climate change projections. The outcomes of the project are expected to demonstrate how this framework can be used in practice, drawing from expert evaluations and end-user experiences. The basic idea of the project is to enhance the implementation of strategies that would increase the acceptance of water reuse practices for the local economy and society.
The aim of the project partners, therefore, is to provide a framework for organisational decision-making processes for companies and utilities to facilitate the uptake of water reuse practices in their operations. The project will test assumptions regarding technical feasibility, legal provisions, political assessments, and sustainability benefits for the environment, economy, and society.
This overall project is an international project funded under the EIG-Concert Japan and the German partners are funded by the German Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).