Forschungskolleg NRW: Future Water

Humanity’s intensive water use is rapidly changing the dynamics within water bodies such as rivers, lakes, groundwater and seas. As a result, the science of sustainable water use has become a central challenge of our time. Technologies which minimize the effect of human activities on water systems are both expensive and challenging to develop; to that end, water science requires interdisciplinary and cross-sector approaches, including from the fields of engineering, chemistry, economics, as well as the environmental, medical, and social sciences. This broad knowledge base is the principle driving force behind the cutting-edge Future Water group.

Subproject 1:
Innovative adaptation measures for heavy rain events – community development and awareness raising in municipalities of the Ruhr area

The expected increase in heavy rainfall events, which we are aware of through the yearly intensive media coverage of the catastrophic heavy rainfall consequences, puts more pressure on the implementation of adaptation measures at the municipal level. However, the inner-city degree of sealing and the high population density make the implementation of heavy rainfall adjustment measures more difficult due to the competition for land and the large number of residents with partly conflicting interests. Therefore, the risk perception of citizens and their willingness to participate in the planning and implementation process of heavy rainfall adaptation measures will be examined. It is important to analyze appropriate forms of participation and to assess their impact on the acceptance and behavior of citizens. In addition, a cost-benefit calculation for participation will be conducted.

Subproject 2:
Concept Study for the Implementation of a Regional Water Cycle

The European Water Framework Directive (WFD) states that rivers, lakes, transitional and coastal waters, and groundwater achieve “good chemical and ecological status” by the year 2027 at the latest. In this context, Juliane Koti will determine within her PhD-project “Concept Study for the Implementation of a Regional Water Cycle”, how the regional water cycle can be closed (from waste water effluent to the provision of process- or drinking water) in order to reduce or prevent emissions from municipal waste water to receiving water bodies.
Based on international experiences (literature research and experience exchange) of realized, industrial scale water reuse plants, process data, quality parameters and framework conditions have to be evaluated in order to identify available/suitable processes and technologies. In collaboration with Emschergenossenschaft/Lippeverband as practice partner, a conceptual study will be developed for a defined research area in North-Rhine-Westphalia. Taking into consideration the fulfilment of defined water quality criteria, demands for sewer system and treatment technologies will be specified and evaluated according to their technical, ecological and (socio-)economic impacts. Based on international experiences regarding public perception, suitable communication tools have to be identified or developed, as – besides technical feasibility – users´ acceptance plays a crucial role for a successful implementation of reuse concepts. Finally, the feasibility of the developed water reuse concept is evaluated regarding advantages and disadvantages and the transferability on other regions within Germany is analysed.