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Holistic Surface Water and Groundwater Management for Sustainable Cities

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - Water4Cities (Holistic Surface Water and Groundwater Management for Sustainable Cities)

Reporting period: 2017-03-01 to 2019-02-28

Problem: Rapid urbanization, intensified agriculture and industry combined with water scarcity and climate change pressures that include long drought periods or extreme storm water events and diminishing fresh water supplies, set water quantity and quality monitoring as an imperative component of an efficient urban water management scheme. Worldwide, policy instruments, such as the EC Water Framework Directive and the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Water Management Plans and Best Practices are applying pressure to authorities of all levels to actually implement such innovative solutions. However, the deployment of advanced high-quality real-time monitoring activities in urban settings is not yet achieved due to several reasons including: i) difficulties in collecting precise and robust monitoring data due to sensor technologies limitations, such as limited battery lifetime and limited transmission range especially for groundwater monitoring; ii) standardization issues that prohibit interoperability and iii) use of simple data mining and data visualization techniques that do not fully exploit the value of data collected.

Impact to society: The Water4Cities project will have a strong impact to multiple stakeholders at city level. The national ministries and agencies (for finance, energy, development, tourism etc.) will get a direct benefit from Water4Cities project by getting new tools to analyze water resources at a given region and support policy coordination and guidance and improve water management services in the country. The authorities (regional, local) will obtain further information and knowledge that will guide the implementation of practices aiming at the sustainable exploitation of water in line with high consumers’ water services in their respective region the national and the EU legislative and institutional framework and reduce water stresses associated with climate change, while generating business opportunities for SMEs. The public/private utility companies (water/electricity suppliers, utility engineers etc.) will benefit from lower operating costs, cost-effective and environmental-friendly practices, and improvement in their water services overall regime and gain further information and knowledge about present and future decisions for water sustainability issues.

Objectives: The Water4Cities project relies on sensor technologies, data and visual analytics to enable localization, modelling, forecasting and visualization of urban water resources (both surface water and groundwater), as well as urban water infrastructure, at a holistic urban setting providing services to multiple water stakeholders. In this line, the Water4Cities project aims to develop an Information and Communications Technology (ICT) platform that will enable water utilities, authorities and other relevant stakeholders to a) monitor in real-time critical urban water resources parameters; b) support their decisions for optimal urban water management of minimal environmental impact and c) involve policy makers, corporations and public to provide support for sound and balanced decision-making. The Water4Cities project will contribute to a sustainable management of urban water by relying on three main innovation pillars: i) the design of a holistic integrated methodology for urban surface water and groundwater monitoring and management; ii) the construction of a beyond the state-of-the-art data collection and analysis mechanism for urban water monitoring and prediction; iii) the enablement of visualization of water related data for sustainable urban water management.
In this initial phase, all project partners worked on the collection and analysis of requirements from different stakeholders of the Water4Cities platform, with particular emphasis on the requirements of water providers and municipalities. DEYASK and LUZ led the collection of the requirements to define the needs of stakeholders and their expectations from the platform. This analysis provided a baseline for the creation of pilot usage scenarios, along with use cases illustrating the interaction of the users with the platform, and the envisioned system functionalities. On the base of identified requirements and envisioned use cases, SLG and other technical partners define an initial overall system architecture to drive the implementation of the Water4Cities platform and services. The methodology followed in this phase could be summarized in the following: i) the cooperation of all beneficiaries in the requirement analysis ii) the design of overall system architecture and the definition of technical specifications lead by SLG, IQU, JSI and BU.

Main results achieved so far are:
i) Five technical deliverables, providing an analysis of stakeholders and identification of their requirements (D2.1) initial definition of use cases and KPIs (D2.2) initial design of system architecture (D2.3) analysis of current practices and ICT solutions in the field of water management and positioning of the Water4Cities project (D3.1) methodological framework for the Water4Cities approach (D3.2).
ii) Five webinars delivered by the Water4Cities partners and their collaborators reaching internal and external stakeholders.
iii) Ten research publications presenting the initial system design and early results of data analytics algorithms for water demand/supply prediction.
iv) One special session organized by the Water4Cities consortium as part of the international EWaS conference 2018.
v) Eighteen (18) secondments conducted by sixteen researchers (16) within the Water4Cities consortium.
Despite the ongoing research work in the area of smart water management, the deployment of advanced high-quality real-time water monitoring tools and services in urban settings is still far from being achieved due to several reasons including difficulties in collecting precise monitoring data, lack of interoperability standards and use of simple data mining and data visualization techniques that do not fully exploit the data value. As a response to this challenge, the Water4Cities approach aims to develop novel, beyond state-of-the-art mechanisms for water sensor data collection as well as sophisticated data mining algorithms and data visualization techniques to support two real use cases focusing on water demand management and water reuse and urban planning.

Water4Cities is expected to have a strong socio-economic impact in Europe and beyond. Public policies on urban water management in EU require the compliance with EU Directives, e.g. Water Framework Directive, Nitrate Directive, Groundwater Directive. Towards this line, at the European level, Water4Cities project will contribute in the check compliance of municipalities and other water stakeholders with existing EU Directives through the enablement of real-time water cycle monitoring. This goal will contribute in the overall objective of EC for sustainable water use. Furthermore, the close collaboration of researchers in this multi-disciplinary field will contribute in stronger industry-academia collaborations in the area of water management. At international level, Water4Cities will contribute in the global sustainable use of urban water minimizing its environmental impact. Furthermore, Water4Cities will contribute in building strategic collaborations between EU and third country research organizations such as IBM, settled in USA.
Water4Cities stakeholders