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.
The different FRESH4Cs demonstration cases have started their design, planning and permitting phase. Design plans were exchanged and discussed during a cross-border partner workshop. Permitting proves to be a major challenge for all demos.
The first modelling results of the underground water storage (MAR) demo at Felixstowe (UK) indicate a higher than expected potential for both storage and extraction. Together with the Felixstowe water transfer and (above ground) buffering demo, field works will start in 2020. The nature-based solution for wastewater treatment demo at Koksijde (BE) is also in the permit and design phase. A local dissemination event attracted 41 stakeholders to the site. Also, the water buffering demo at Kwetshage (BE) is in the design phase. The feasibility study for underground buffering at Braakman Zuid (NL) shows promising results, with the identification of potential sites for a pilot-scale demo. A local dissemination event attracted 38 stakeholders. Works at our last site (feasibility study at Kruiningen, NL) were not planned to start in 2019.
In 2019 FRESH4Cs organized a cross-border start conference (87 people attended) in Bruges, Belgium, where technological and non-technological solutions and barriers for freshwater provision in coastal regions were discussed. Awareness was raised on the challenges to make our water system robust for the future, and ideas were exchanged between stakeholders of the member states.
The supporting technological work package (WP1) has set up a joint monitoring strategy, that will be used after the demonstration for technology evaluation. Likewise, a joint strategy for non-technological support (WP2) was set up. Researchers from HZ University, supported and accompanied by local partners, have started interviewing stakeholders to get insight into each member state’s specific opportunities and barriers.