Annex : Recent EU innovation projects for water stress management



Box 6.4 Selection of recent EU projects dealing with water quantity challenges and/or digitalization in the water sector.

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Research project

Vision & Key objectives


Managing the effects of multiple stressors on aquatic ecosystems under water scarcity

(FP 7, 2014-2019)

Globaqua explored the impacts from different combinations of pressures acting at the same time (e.g. organic and inorganic pollution, water abstraction, land use change) under water scarcity conditions, emphasising on the potentially unknown synergies that might take place and amplify the degradation of chemical and ecological status of freshwaters. Furthermore, the project studied and valuated the potential implications for associated ecosystem services following a participatory approach. The project also explored the potential to improve river basin management through the integration of ecosystems services in freshwater policies and management.



Global Earth Observation for Integrated Water Resource Assessment

(FP 7, 2014-2017)

EartH2Observe aimed at integrating available global earth observations via satellites and in-situ data from ground stations with global hydrological and land surface models to perform a re-analysis, and generate a comprehensive and consistent dataset for global water resources. The project reconstructed timeseries of sufficient length (several decades) for key components of the water cycle, such as precipitation, evapotranspiration, soil moisture, groundwater and others. Therefore, it improved the knowledge on the water budgets, especially in regions with gaps in their monitoring coverage. A key product of the project was the Water Cycle Integrator data portal, which provides all datasets online. The usefulness of the project outputs was demonstrated in selected case studies with the participation of local stakeholders.



Destination Earth

(European Commission, 2021-2030)

The ambition of the Destination Earth Initiative is to create digital replicas of different subsystems of the Earth (e.g. weather and climate, global ocean circulation and biogeochemistry of the oceans, freshwater, food) and integrate them into a unique “digital twin” of the Earth. This digital twin will contain high-precision information on the status and operation of the physical world, including environmental and socio-economic activities, and it will be capable of simulating different scenarios for sustainable development. Therefore, it could improve policy and decision making in the EU. The core feature of the project will be a federated cloud-based modelling and simulation platform, which will provide access to advanced computing infrastructure, artificial intelligence applications and analytics, sophisticated software and datasets. It will be funded as part of the European Commission’s programme for Digital Europe, while certain aspects will also be supported by Horizon Europe and the EU space programme. Although the initial end-users are the public authorities, the initiative will also provide opportunities for exploitation of the results by scientific and industrial users in the future.


Demonstration of water loops with innovative regenerative business models for the Mediterranean region

(H2020, 2018-2022)

Hydrousa focuses on the development of a circular business model for the Mediterranean and other water-scarce regions across Europe and worldwide, by establishing decentralised regenerative solutions for water/wastewater treatment and management that close the local water loops, improve agricultural production and benefit local value chains. The project devises and demonstrates innovative solutions with low energy footprint for different types of water (i.e. rainwater, groundwater, wastewater, saline water and vapour). Proposed solutions adopt traditional handcraft and ancient technologies, and combine them with modern nature-based and nature-inspired approaches, as well as with information and communication technology systems and automations.


Innovative water recovery solutions through recycling of heat, materials and water across multiple sectors

(H2020, 2020-2024)

iWAYS focuses on the recovery of energy, material and water from industries with gaseous and wastewater emissions by applying non-disrupting approaches that combine exhaust condensation, water treatment and waste valorisation. The novel approaches will be tested in industries related to ceramics, chemicals and steel, which are considered water and energy intensive. The project targets to recover 30% of water and heat from humid chimney plumes and cut down freshwater consumption by 30% to 64%. In addition, it aims at recovering valuable acids or particulates from flue gases, which also protects the environment from harmful emissions.


Enhancing Standardisation strategies to integrate innovative technologies for Safety and Security in existing water networks (H2020, 2019-2022)

Aqua3S aims at combining standardisation of existing sensor technologies with state-of-the-art technologies to detect water safety and security risks for water networks, including the use of unmanned aerial vehicles, satellite images and citizen observations through social media crowdsourcing. The key project output will be an integrated platform, which serves as an early warning and decision support system. The platform will assist water utilities in mitigating risks, handling crisis events and alerting the public and the authorities on evolving issues with their water networks; thus, reducing the potential of water shortages and improving the response time in in the case of crisis events.


Digital Water.City

Leading urban water management to its digital future

(H2020, 2019-2022)

Digital Water.City investigates a range of digital solutions, which could be applied in urban and peri-urban environments to help the water authorities tackle modern water challenges and increase awareness and participation of the citizens in water protection and management. The project demonstrates case studies from five major cities in Europe (i.e. Berlin, Copenhagen, Milan, Paris and Sofia). Inter alias, it develops digital solutions for increasing the volume of safe water reuse, promoting precision farming, raising awareness for groundwater risks, and facilitating integrated monitoring and management of groundwater resources. A variety of methods and technologies is combined and tested, including artificial intelligence, machine learning, unmanned aerial vehicles, real-time sensors, modelling, augmented reality, mobile technology and cloud computing. The project also addresses the issues of interoperability, cybersecurity and governance regarding digital infrastructure.



FIWARE for the Next Generation Internet Services for the WATER sector

(H2020, 2019-2022)

Fiware4Water builds upon the FIWARE platform, which is an open-source smart solution incorporating modules that enable the connection of Internet of Things, Context Information Management, Big Data services and cloud services, and facilitates Smart City initiatives and the Next Generation of Internet initiative. The project aims at supporting the adoption of the FIWARE platform by end-users of the water sector (e.g. cities, water utilities, water authorities, citizens and consumers) and solution providers (e.g. private utilities, SMEs, developers), because of its capacities to enable interoperability, standardisation, cross-domain cooperation and data exchange. The project demonstrates four European case-studies with digital water solutions for optimised selection of water sources and routing of water, increased water saving and safety in the water networks, real-time monitoring and awareness of household consumption, and optimisation of wastewater treatment operation.



A holistic water ecosystem for digitisation of urban water sector


NAIADES focuses on real-time monitoring of water consumption in residential, commercial and public buildings and the exploitation of Big Data analytics in three dimensions (i.e. spatial, temporal and nodal). A mobile application has been developed to support awareness and behavioural change of consumers towards their personalised water consumption through a stepwise commitment to more sustainable water use goals. The project also measures the safety and reliability of water supply after examining equipment failures and maintenance schemes, in order to understand and improve water asset management strategies by water utilities. Furthermore, the project collects information on water quality and applies machine learning techniques to predict potential quality problems before they break out; thus increasing the confidence of water consumers regarding water quality of their tap water.



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