Project budget5 621 915 €
ERDF amount2 958 041 €
The FRESH4Cs project focusses on the second Europe 2020 priority of sustainable growth, by demonstrating the provision of alternative and sustainable fresh water resources for lowland coastal regions. Traditional water resources are under pressure in the 2 seas region, and this problem is even more prominent in lowland coastal regions due to salinization of (near) surface waters. These same coastal lowlands drain vast amounts of water towards the sea at moments of water surplus (seasonal). Where water consumption has often been reduced to economic feasible levels, a second step in efficient water resource management is providing alternative and more sustainable resources, which is the focus of this project. We will do this by the efficient use of the fresh water resources that are now drained to the sea.
The main objective of the FRESH4Cs project is to provide year-long sustainable fresh water supply for the different water users in coastal lowlands, as an alternative to using overexploited deeper aquifers or long distance water supply through pipelines. The alternative water resources considered focus on storing and using surplus fresh water that is now drained to the sea during periods of water abundancy. By starting innovative demo sites and combine these with a roadmap for the non-technological barriers, the project expects that water management in the coastal lowlands of the 2 seas region will increasingly take up the demo technologies, reducing on the long term the pressure on non-sustainable water resources.
Five demonstration sites for the use of alternative water resources and one evaluation report on these technologies are a first output. These demos include technologies based on shallow aquifer storage (creek ridge infiltration (with/without desalination) and managed aquifer recharge; UK, NL, BE), innovative water management including storage and redistribution (UK) and the use of waste water through a nature based solution upgrade of an existing treatment plant (BE). These demos will benefit local actors in the water landscape: water managers (governmental or private), water utilities and water users such as farmers, tourism and drinking water production. We will start one replication site through by conducting a feasability study.
A roadmap for widespread implementation of the demo technologies will be delivered, which will focus on technological and non-technological opportunities and barriers. It targets policy and legislation makers and the different actors in the water sector.
Cross border approach
- Need for demo locations in various settings: this project will link five demo sites, which will set an example for decision makers;
- Technological knowledge exchange: to take advantage of the different levels of experience for each of the technologies present in the different 2 seas regions;
- Non-technological knowledge exchange: to take advantage of the different experiences on non-technological issues for each of the technologies present in the different 2 seas regions;
- Community building: to build a cross-border community based on these demo sites, which will enable widespread replication and will result in a multiplication of gained water saving and efficiency.
FRESH4Cs wants to demonstrate solutions for sustainable freshwater resources in coastal regions, and does this by implementing 6 dems. These demos have all progressed in their design, planning and permitting phase. The partners regularly exchanged their experiences on demo design. A joint monitoring strategy ensures compliance with regulations, and will allow technology evaluation.
At Felixstowe (UK), the construction of the water transfer and buffering network has been finished at the end of 2020. It will start providing irrigation water to farmers in summer 2021. At the same site, we will demonstrate underground water storage and recovery (MAR) in a second demo. Model results indicate a higher than expected potential. Permit delivery is delayed and requires additional water quality measurements, but we will start construction later in 2021.
The design for the nature-based solution for wastewater treatment at Koksijde (BE) has been finished and construction works will start in 2021 after the permit is obtained (decision on 27/1/2021). The design of the water buffering demo at Kwetshage (BE) has suffered delays due to historic soil pollution and the need for a stability study for a nearby railway. Construction is expected to start in 2022.
The feasibility study for underground buffering at Braakman Zuid (NL) has identified the most suitable locations and started negotiations with local farmers and regulators. Their pilot-scale demo will be constructed in mid-2021. The feasibility study at Kruiningen (NL) for the storage of effluent has made progress on monitoring effluent quality, an important parameter to assess the potential. Covid-19 related production stops have delayed some works.
Non-technological barriers and opportunities are important to ensure further uptake of the solutions. Partners collaborated to gain insight in each member state’s specific water framework through interviews with experts and stakeholders. These interviews will be complemented with surveys of water users to further detail the framework and specific investment requirements. A project workshop exchanged experience on collaboration forms between farmers, industry and government.
A successful start conference in Bruges (BE) focused on the challenges to make our water system robust for the future. Since then project partners have organized local events that connect directly to the investments stakeholders and have disseminated the FRESH4Cs solutions at several meetings.