Climate change scenarios predict more extreme weather, in the form of both extreme precipitation and prolonged periods of extreme drought. During droughts, throughout the whole of Europe, the 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 that targets both extreme precipitation and drought, and can be implemented in many European contexts.
The LIFE Local Water Adapt approach addresses the entire water cycle, from collection to use and reuse. Key is the close cooperation between local organisations, such as municipalities, housing corporations, and organisations responsible for drinking water supply and wastewater treatment.
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 such 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.
The implementation of LIFE Local Water Adapt is combined with the reconstruction of the demonstration area, 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 that is being employed, is an innovative concept, the full potential of which will be demonstrated for the first time. The digestion product can be sold as fertiliser, generating 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: Streets, parking lots and ponds will be used as initial buffers for the rainwater, which in turn feed the buffers for the household water production.
In addition to the technical measures, LIFE Local Water Adapt:
- Motivates residents to actively participate in reaching the overall goal of reducing the dependence on groundwater; and
- Cooperates with the national government to address legislative issues and acceptance of the solutions offered.
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 that may also have other advantages. Creating a self-sustaining local water system means that investing in large centralised networks for drinking water supply and wastewater treatment is no longer necessary. This can be particularly important for areas with population decline, where covering the costs of investments in large centralized networks becomes increasingly problematic.
- N.V. Waterleiding Maatschappij Limburg
- Woningstichting HEEMwonen
- Municipality of Kerkrade
- Waterschapsbedrijf Limburg
- De Watergroep (Vlaanderen)
LIFE Climate Adaptation
For more detailed information, please visit the project’s website here.