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Demonstrate Ecosystem Services Enabling Innovation in the Water Sector

Periodic Report Summary 1 - 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 made its first achievements towards the development of the DESSIN Ecosystem Services Evaluation Framework. It has gathered the necessary overview on the state of the art in the assessment and economic valuation of ESS; selected a common classification of ESS as a consistent basis for the framework; agreed on a conceptual approach upon which to build the DESSIN framework; consolidated a common terminology (DESSIN Glossary), and produced a progress report outlining all the components of the first version of the evaluation framework. Finally, the first tests of the draft concepts have been conducted at three ‘mature sites’ in order to have a validation and refinement of the approach at an early stage. DESSIN has also developed a governance assesment tool for analysing the performance of urban water governance and its capacity to promote innovation uptake; it has tested this tool in three case studies and highlighted enabling and hindering governance factors; It has analysed financing models and funding mechanisms for innovation uptake and also the role of specific policy instruments. It has linked best practice and constraints in governance and financing regimes with ESS valuation and innovation uptake and developed a manual for practitioners and policy makers. This will further feed into the work of the actual demonstration work in the DESSIN case studies, and also support the DESSIN SMEs and their “route to market”.
Technical solutions to tackle water quality and water scarcity have been developed, in particular a new system with modular cross-flow lamella settling units for application in Combined Sewer Overflow (CSO) holding tanks; a high rate filtration (HRF) system for implementation on the overflow pipe from a CSO, and a Real Time Control (RTC) system for reducing CSO overflow volumes. Significant results achieved are 1) the use of model test results, compiled as settling efficiency versus surficial loading, for dimensioning cross-flow lamella settlers; 2) promising test results for the removal efficiency in biological oxygen demand (BOD) (50 – 80 %) and suspended solids (SS) (60 – 80%) of the HRF. Furthermore, an online monitoring system for the demonstration plants enabling remote control has been designed. Solutions for water scarcity challenges include distributed reuse technologies (both modular and mobile) with focus on sewer mining technologies and Aquifer Storage and Recovery (ASR) systems to be demonstrated as potential sources for drinking water, agricultural or industrial water. With regards to the distributed reuse technologies, the significant results achieved are 1) the set up of guidelines for the selection and optimisation of new membrane solutions and technologies as modular packaged treatment solutions; 2) the design of the hardware and software of the ICT monitoring platform. Within the proposed ASR solution for agricultural or industrial use, the reverse osmosis is integrated in the ASR pilot. Finally, in the study related to the ASR solutions for drinking water use, the evaluation of historical data of water quality allowed the selection of the sand filtered water as the most suitable input water for being injected in the demonstration phase. At all five DESSIN sites, the solutions to be demonstrated have been assembled and installed, and the actual demonstration has started.
The DESSIN dissemination tools, strategies and materials have been developed and produced (logos, templates, newsletter, website, project leaflet, annual magazine). 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, working relations with the DESSIN SMEs have been established and a series of events been carried out such as individual workshops with the SMEs to further detail the commercialization of the DESSIN products.

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.

We expect that DESSIN solutions to tackle Water Scarcity Challenges will have the following impacts:
• Enhancement of groundwater resources in quality and quantity, contribution to the good ecological, chemical and quantitative status groundwater bodies
• Safeguarding water supply to areas with intermittent availability and peak demands.
• Reducing ecological and chemical pressures caused by high abstraction.
• Increase operators’ competitiveness in the drinking water treatment process, with a substantial reduction of the cost and environmental impact of injected water.
• Provision of irrigated urban green spaces in arid/semi-arid regions.
• Increased resilience of water supply systems under extreme conditions (scarcity and drought periods, periods of imbalances between demand and available resources)
• Service sectors such as tourism, trade or leisure will break water availability constraints.
• Increase reliable fresh water resources of high quality for a sustainable urban, agricultural and industrial development.
• Enhanced potential to supply fresh water from brackish (coastal) areas to decrease the negative effects on surrounding freshwater ecosystems.

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