Home | Sitemap | Imprint | Privacy Statement | Deutsch

1.3.07 International Water Research Alliance Saxony – building blocks for sustainable water management

There are currently almost a billion people living without clean drinking water and over three billion without sufficient sanitation – with serious consequences for health and the economy. It is in response to this that the United Nations devised the Millennium Goals in 2002, which commit the member states to halving the number of people without access to clean drinking water and sanitary facilities by the year 2015. Research projects such as the “International Water Research Alliance Saxony” (IWAS) can help deliver specific solutions in this regard. Scientists working on this project are developing comprehensive water management concepts for five hydrologically sensitive regions of the world.

The world’s population is rapidly growing and with it the need for food and clean water. This poses a major problem: up to 90% of the expected increase (by 2050) will be in developing and emerging countries. Irrigation farming is required in order to produce the amount of food required within these regions. This worsens the already prevalent lack of water – taking up around 70% of global water consumption, agriculture uses far more water than anything else.

Around 40 scientists from the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ and the Technical University of Dresden have joined forces with Stadtentwässerung Dresden GmbH, the Institute of Hydrobiology (itwh), Dreberis GmbH and other partners from science, economics and politics to form the “International Water Research Alliance Saxony” (IWAS) in order to address these challenges, by tackling the most pressing water issues in five strongly affected regions of the world.

Working in the model regions

Model area in Saudi Arabia: water in the dessert (Source: GIZ IS, Riyadh)

Model area in Saudi Arabia: water in the dessert (Source: GIZ IS, Riyadh)
Model area in Saudi Arabia: water in the dessert (Source: GIZ IS, Riyadh)

Funded by the BMBF as part of the “Spitzenforschung und Innovation in den Neuen Ländern” programme (top research and innovation in new countries), scientists working on the IWAS project are developing system solutions for the respective water problems. The solutions are to serve as elementary building blocks for holistic and sustainable integrated water resource management (IWRM), the aim being to establish this in the affected countries in the years and decades to come. The reasons for the water problems that are occurring are as diverse as the profiles of the regions under investigation:

Eastern Europe/Ukraine: The focus in this region is on improving the quality of the surface water in line with the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD). The model region is the basin of the Western Bug. Previous studies have shown that the river basin is heavily contaminated. An extensive range of technological improvements and changes to institutional framework conditions are required if European standards are to be achieved in this area. The scientists analysed the water management structures within the urban and rural areas, mapped the water cycle and the established forms of land use in computer models and recorded the climate data in a database. Intensive relationships were also established with representatives from science, the authorities, water management and the relevant ministries.

Central Asia/Mongolia: This project region is dominated by an extreme climate and the environmental conditions are currently undergoing significant change. The most important task here is to develop adaptation strategies, with new technologies to safeguard water quality playing a major role. The scientists have already begun constructing a measuring device that will quickly detect bacteriological impurities and pollutants. They have also worked in close collaboration with the “MoMo” IWRM project (see project 1.3.04) in analysing the available administrative structures and stakeholders. This will enable potential improvements to social framework conditions to be applied and thus pave the way for the sustainable implementation of the IWRM concept.

Research approach of the International Water Research Alliance Saxony (IWAS)

Research approach of the International Water Research Alliance Saxony (IWAS)
Research approach of the International Water Research Alliance Saxony (IWAS)

South-east Asia/Vietnam: The work in this project region focuses on a district of Hanoi (Long Bien). Extremely rapid growth in this region has led to the improper disposal of wastewater. The aim is to develop a concept for a sustainable drainage system and to integrate it into the existing water system. The scientists have analysed ways to supplement the groundwater artificially with cleaned wastewater to counteract its reduction. A demonstration facility is to be erected on a plot of land provided by the city authorities and a water competence centre is also in the pipeline.

Middle East/Saudi Arabia, Oman: Arid regions like the Arabian Peninsula primarily obtain their water resources from the groundwater. The risk of over-exploitation of this source of water is especially high. The focus of this regional project therefore is a complex modelling of groundwater regeneration and the negative effects on its quality, e.g. through the infiltration of saltwater along the coast. Then there is also the question of sustainable management; among other things, the project is examining the influence of climate change and climate extremes on crop yields.

Latin America/Brazil: The Brazil model region is typified by rapid, unchecked urbanisation. It is expected that the need for water supplies and system capacities will soon increase dramatically. IWAS is working together with the water supplier and other Brazilian partners to develop appropriate strategies. This is to be combined with other complementary BMBF projects in order to establish an IWRM system for the region. The regional water suppliers are planning to invest millions over the next few years in land use and the development of a technical infrastructure; the project results will make a significant contribution to devising sustainable solutions in this regard.

Cross-sectional activities and outlook

The development of sustainable management concepts requires future scenarios and forecasting models. These are combined for all regional projects in a central “IWAS toolbox” to enable transferability to other regions. Other key components of the IWAS projects are the transfer of knowledge (capacity development) and the setting up of sustainable water management structures. This is intended to help implement the developed solutions and strategies in the respective regions in such a way that ensures their longevity.

Following the completion of the two-and-a-half-year pilot phase, a follow-up project was launched (2011 to 2013). This phase will continue the work undertaken, increase the focus and implement the developed management concepts in collaboration with the respective partners.

International Water Research Alliance Saxony – IWAS
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ
Department Aquatic Ecosystem Analysis and Management

Prof. Dr. Dietrich Borchardt
Brückstraße 3a
39114 Magdeburg, Germany
Tel.: +49(0)3 91/8 10 91 01
E-mail: dietrich.borchardt@ufz.de

Technical University of Dresden
Institute for urban water management

Prof. Dr. Peter Krebs
01062 Dresden, Germany
Tel.: +49(0)3 51/46 33 52 57
E-mail: pkrebs@rcs.urz.tu-dresden.de

Funding reference:
Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ 02WM1027
Technical University of Dresden 02WM1028
Stadtentwässerung Dresden 02WM1029
Institute of Hydrobiology (itwh) 02WM1050
Ressource Wasser
Quick view