Climate change scenarios predict more extreme weather, both extreme precipitation and prolonged periods of extreme drought. During droughts, throughout the whole of the EU, depletion of water resources for household use (in particular groundwater) is a serious threat. LIFE Local Water Adapt develops and demonstrates an urban climate-adaptation strategy targeting both extreme precipitation and drought, that can be implemented in many areas of the EU.
The LIFE Local Water Adapt approach addresses the entire water cycle, i.e. collection, use, and reuse. Key is the close cooperation of local organizations like municipalities, housing corporations, and organizations responsible for drinking-water supply and wastewater treatment.
What does this mean in concrete terms?
In periods of extreme precipitation, rainwater is collected and stored. After purification, the water can be supplied to households in the direct vicinity. To further reduce the dependence on groundwater resources, these households take water-saving measures as vacuum toilets and recycle showers. Furthermore, food waste grinders are installed that produce a concentrated stream of organic waste, perfect for digestion. Wastewater from the households is treated and used for a collective carwash and launderette.
Implementation of LIFE Local Water Adapt is combined with reconstruction of the demonstration area, i.e. replacing existing houses and upgrading the quality of the environment. Smart equipment is used for the balancing of water demand and storage of rainwater, ensuring that sufficient rainwater is available at all times. The digester used is an innovative concept that will be demonstrated on a full scale for the first time. The digestion product can be sold as fertilizer, which generates income to cover the investments and operational costs of LIFE Local Water Adapt. Water storage is an integral part of the redevelopment of the demonstration area, i.e. streets, parking lots and ponds will be used as first buffers for the rainwater, to feed the buffers for the household water production.
Next to the technical measures LIFE Local Water Adapt involves:
- Motivation of residents to actively participate in reaching the overall goal of reducing the dependence on groundwater;
- Cooperation with the national government to address legislative issues and acceptance.
To demonstrate the replication potential of LIFE Local Water Adapt, a small-scale demonstration of the approach will be created in Flanders.
The LIFE Local Water Adapt approach is a good climate adaptation strategy, but may also have other advantages. Creating a self-sustaining local water system means that investing in large centralized networks for drinking-water supply and wastewater treatment is no longer necessary. This can be particularly important for areas with declining population, where covering costs of investments in large centralized networks becomes really problematic.
- N.V. Waterleiding Maatschappij Limburg
- Woningstichting HEEMwonen
- Gemeente Kerkrade
- Waterschapsbedrijf Limburg
- De Watergroep (Vlaanderen)
LIFE Climate Adaptation
If you would like to read more detailed information you can find it here.