The Netherlands Water Nexus Research Program: Brackish water as a resource for solving Agricultural and Industrial fresh water needs.
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WATER NEXUS is developing integral solutions for problems with water scarcity in delta areas worldwide. A paradigm shift is introduced, namely to consider salt impacted water as a resource, and not as a threat: saline water where possible, freshwater where essential. The economy of deltas becomes increasingly impacted by freshwater scarcity as a result of reduced river discharges, sea level rise and salt water intrusion. This is combined with growing fresh water demands, to a large extend originating from the agro and industrial sectors. WATER NEXUS started in October 2015 as a Dutch research program with a duration of five years and with a team of 17 PhD and post doc researchers to develop a coherent set of management and treatment approaches that support large volume water supply systems as needed for agriculture and industry. The approach is based on complete reuse and recirculation of used water, mild desalination and compound specific treatment of natural and used salty water streams, storage and treatment of water in green infrastructure, and fresh water recharge in shallow (under agricultural land), and deeper (in aquifers) subsurface systems. The program develops approaches for: i) Water distribution & control: control models are developed to create an optimal spatial distribution of saline and freshwater (in support of saline water where possible, freshwater where essential). ii) Use of alternative sources: treatment technologies are developed to make saline water suitable for large, specific applications (such as industrial cooling and agro- and horticulture usages). Minimization of energy, costs, i.e. by removing those substances that hinder use (e.g. monovalent salts, organic chemicals), and maintaining substances beneficial to use (e.g. nutrients for agriculture).Key to WATER NEXUS is that program partners cover the entire innovation chain: i.e. partners are from universities (7), institutes for applied research (4), technology providers & consultants (11), water managers (5) and large agro and industrial end users (4). WATER NEXUS combines excellence in fundamental and applied sciences with application knowledge from private companies. The end users have defined various cases for the salinity and chemical specs of the water resources to be considered for reuse en recycling, and this is the base for the research that has now been initiated. The first results of that research will be presented during the conference also to discuss international collaboration.