New guidelines for Water Demand Management

The quality and the quantity of fresh water resources face increasing challenges in many parts of Europe. Climate change, rapid population growth and urbanistion, diminishing freshwater resources, and ageing infrastructure are all taking their toll on our water supply.

Whilst our population is rapidly increasing, water resources have remained constant, and are increasingly polluted. Supply and demand are out of kilter, and this is set to continue: it’s estimated that the global demand for water will surpass its availability by 56 percent by 2025. Already 18 percent of Europe’s population live in countries that are ‘water stressed’ (demand exceeds availability by more than 20%). The overall message is that we are all using more and more water, and a shocking one third of it is actually being flushed down our toilets.

It’s clear that improved water conservation, methods for managing water demand and technologies to reduce water wastage are urgently needed. In an attempt to address this, TRansitions to the Urban Water Services of Tomorrow (TRUST), an EU-funded water research project, has recently produced a guide for water stakeholders working on these issues. ‘Guidance on evaluation and selection of sustainable water demand management technologies’, offers direction on the evaluation and selection of Water Demand Management (WDM) type technologies for the reduction of water consumption.

Dr. Aisha Bello-Dambatta and Professor Zoran Kapelan from the University of Exeter in the UK, key authors of the report, noted, ‘The main reason for developing our guidelines was to enable a better management of overall water demand from source to tap, i.e. water abstracted from the natural environment, treated, stored, transported, and eventually distributed to water consumers […] Our guidelines provide a lot of technical details and selection guidance for a wide range of water saving technologies, targeting both domestic and industrial water consumption, and cover a broad spectrum of WDM options.’

The authors added, ‘The specific target audience for our guidelines are water service providers (WSPs), policy makers, local authorities and household water users. Having said this, different stakeholders have different objectives and priorities, which cannot be considered in isolation so basically all water stakeholders can benefit from our guidelines.’

Completed with additional input from the colleagues at University of Exeter, Fachhochschule Nordwestschweiz in Switzerland and National Technical University of Athens in Greece, the guidelines seek to empower water stakeholders to encourage the efficient and sustainable use of water in order to ultimately balance supply/demand and ensure the security of future water supply. The TRUST project, which encompasses 30 partners in eleven different countries, is also researching a range of other innovations and tools with the aim of creating a more sustainable water future.