Skip to main content

Demonstrate Ecosystem Services Enabling Innovation in the Water Sector

Periodic Report Summary 2 - DESSIN (Demonstrate Ecosystem Services Enabling Innovation in the Water Sector)

Project Context and Objectives:
What is the context and background of DESSIN?
Water scarcity and water quality are important issues in urban areas across Europe and beyond. New technology or management approaches to tackle these issues are needed. Those approaches are more likely to turn into real innovations that are actually implemented and taken up by the market if there is evidence of their benefits or added value in economic, environmental and societal terms. Therefore, a method to prove the value of new solutions is needed in addition to new technology and management approaches.

What are the main objectives of DESSIN?
DESSIN aims to demonstrate and promote innovative solutions for water scarcity and water quality / the implementation of the Water Framework directive (WFD), and to show the value of those solutions for the water sector and society by also developing and demonstrating a methodology for the valuation of ecosystem services (ESS) as catalyser for innovation. By this twofold approach, DESSIN will be able to demonstrate how innovative solutions in the water cycle can increase the value of the services provided by freshwater ecosystems, enabling a more informed selection of the most promising solutions in regards to their impact on the water body and their economic implications.

How do we do it?
Scientists, public and private water management organisations and end-users, technology providers (SMEs), supporting RTD experts and relevant public authorities within DESSIN will test, validate and demonstrate innovative solutions at five demo sites across Europe with special focus on urban areas. The solutions include technological, monitoring, modeling and management approaches for a more resource-efficient and competitive water sector in Europe, such as decentralized water treatment units, real time control of large scale systems, sewer mining and storage of freshwater in aquifers, among others. The demo sites Emscher (Germany) and Hoffselva (Norway) contribute to ecosystem services related to water quality/Water Framework Directive and the demo sites Westland (Netherlands), Athens (Greece) and Llobregat (Spain) to water scarcity.
Additionally, DESSIN develops and applies an Evaluation Framework to assess the sustainability aspects of the mentioned solutions and to valuate changes in ecosystem services (ESS) of water bodies that result from the implementation of these solutions. The ecosystem services approach is a method that enables a standardised evaluation of impacts and benefits from technology and governance innovations in multiple sectors. One of its main advantages lies in its capacity to integrate the economic, environmental and societal dimensions. That means, the ESS methodology enables a monetary valuation of the impact of water management measures based on the new solutions, which makes a direct comparison of measures possible and generates arguments for market uptake and practical implementation.
Project Results:
DESSIN has developed an Ecosystem Services Evaluation Framework. The framework consists of the DESSIN Cookbook, the Companion Document, a Supplementary Material File and a Case Reporting Template. A preliminary version of this document package was used to run the testing and validation of the framework at three mature case studies. This feedback loop focused on evaluating the applicability of the framework allowed for its fine-tuning before submission. The Framework is now ready for application by the DESSIN case studies at six demonstration sites across Europe, and for transformation into a software product, which is currently under development. Furthermore, DESSIN has delivered two guidance documents to businesses and water innovators on one hand, and to practitioners and policy makers on the other, about governance regimes and financing options conducive to innovation in the water sector.
Technical solutions to tackle water quality and scarcity challenges have been developed, tested and improved, in order to prepare and support the demonstration of these solutions in the demonstration sites. These were: solutions for local treatment and regulation of Combined Sewer Overflow: a new system with modular cross-flow lamella settling units for application in CSO holding taks, a high-rate filtration (HRF) system for CSO, and a Real Time Control (RTC) system for reducing overflow volumes. Significant results are: 1) the extension of the online monitoring system of the lamella settler plant with online turbidity sensors and automatic samplers with remote control actuator; 2) the confirmation of the the initial results of a removal efficiency of about 50% on average and up to 70% during the first flush from testing the HRF process; 3) the development of an RTC system (ADESBA) and testing of the function to reduce CSO volume in real time. Development of solutions for tackling water scarcity challenges aimed on distributed reuse technologies with focus on sewer mining technologies and Aquifer Storage and Recovery systems (ASR, in one case combined with Reverse Osmosis RO) as potential sources for drinking water, agricultural or industrial water. Results achieved are: 1) the completion of a system architecture with sewer mining software and hardware components and of the communication solutions for collecting, processing and visualizing data; 2) the identification, from monitoring of the ASR system combined with RO, of formation of fine particles in the aquifer's pores as main threats during the RO treatment. 3) a numerical model to simulate the impact on groundwater quality and quantity including the interaction between surface and groundwater for the Llobregat demonstration case.

These solutions are currently being demonstrated at six demonstration sites across Europe (Emscher, Germany; Hoffselva, Norway; Westland, NL; Athens, GR; and Llobregat, ES). At these sites, benefits and co-benefits of the demonstrated solutions are about to be quantified and assessed by using the DESSIN ESS Evaluation Framework. The first demo sites have been tranformed into showcases e.g. by production of videos, installation of on-site showboards or a walkable route across the demo site with information boards. A wide portfolio of additional dissemination tools, strategies and materials have been developed and produced. To support the DESSIN SMEs on their route to market, DESSIN has developed e.g. a market analysis, two business environment reports, and a cooperation document for route to market support established with the individual SMEs. Furthermore, a series of events has been carried out such as individual workshops with the SMEs to further detail the commercialization of the DESSIN products and to support the SMEs in using (as additional selling proposition) the benefits and co-benefits of their technologies as identified by the ESS Evaluation concept.

Potential Impact:
The main final results of DESSIN will be:
1. An analytical framework to evaluate and account impacts from changes in ESS suitable to the water sector, finally resulting in an evaluation framework for development of an ESS module. This will be: (i) tested, validated and refined at three sites across Europe; (ii) transformed into a software framework and module for ESS valuation
2. Concrete guidance for practitioners and policy makers linking good practice and lessons-learned for innovation-friendly governance regimes and financing options, within an ESS framework.
3. Innovative solutions for Water Quality / WFD implementation, implemented in two areas in Europe and evaluated by use of the ESS approach: (i) enhanced efficiency of decentralised treatment of combined sewer overflow by a new cross-flow lamella settlers and innovative high-rate filters, demonstrated in Germany and Norway; (ii) a fully automated real-time control system to minimize combined sewer overflow.
4. Three innovative solutions for Water Scarcity, each implemented in a European area and evaluated by use of the ESS approach: (i) a new combination of sewer mining technology with distributed ICT intelligence to enable decentralised sewer treatment for irrigation e.g. of urban green; (ii) an innovative solution for sustainable freshwater supply from brackish/saline aquifers by combining Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) and desalination with an innovative well design; (iii) a flexible ASR system to increase freshwater availability in the Mediterranean coastal region by deep injection systems able to deal with variable water qualities.
5. A maximised market reach and impact of the solutions developed within DESSIN by (i) Market analyses for groups of technologies developed within DESSIN; (ii) a sample commercialisation process for involved SMEs; (iii) business environment reports for technologies to tackle water quality and water scarcity, (iv) a monitoring & evaluation system for innovation and continuous monitoring of framework conditions and outcomes.

We expect that DESSIN solutions for Water Quality Challenges / WFD implementation will have the following impact:
• Reduced pollutant load and volume from CSO overflows
• Improved water quality in water bodies receiving CSO overflows, some classified as heavily modified that require measures to improve the ecological and chemical status.
• Facilitate increased implementation of mitigation measures by incremental implementation of local treatment and upgrading the efficiency of existing infrastructures with RTC, in comparison to large scale expansion of sewer systems.
• Improved aesthetic value of urban water bodies enabling improved recreational services and functions as environmental elements in urbanized areas.
• Safeguard of a habitats and protection of aquatic species.

List of Websites: