Project name City Water Circles - Urban Cooperation Models for promoting rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse to boost water efficiency in Central European functional urban areas
Objective Objective 3.3
Priority Natural and cultural resources
Aim Water stress affects one third of the EU territory all year round (EC, 2012). Though water scarcity is more pronounced in Southern Europe, it is also becoming increasingly important in other parts of Europe, including CE. Water over-abstraction is one of the main threats to the EU water environment not only in arid regions, but also at parts of CE with high population density. Furthermore, sewerage networks in many CE countries are in quite a poor condition and systems are further strained by the increasing number of extreme rainfalls induced by climate change which often lead to damaging urban flash floods and groundwater pollution.
The ongoing urban sprawl in CE widely contributes to increases in resource use such as water consumption and energy, among others. This calls for adopting water saving measures to a much greater extent than current practices. A proven water retention measure in urban areas is rainwater harvesting (collecting rainwater runoff from roofs, parking lots etc.) which delivers multiple benefits like mitigating heavy rain impacts and contributing to water conservation. In a circular economy, water reuse also plays a key role, bringing significant environmental, social and economic benefits. Besides, greywater (i.e. wastewater from bath, laundry and kitchen), accounting for around 50 to 80% of residential wastewater, can also be widely used for urban landscape irrigation and domestic purposes (like toilet flushing) along with rainwater. This valuable potential is already exploited by many southern and north-western European countries, while the uptake of water reuse solutions is still limited in most parts of CE. Low awareness of potential benefits among stakeholders and the general public, limited institutional capacity to formulate and institutionalise reuse measures, and a lack of financial incentives are the major barriers currently preventing a wider spread of these practices.
Therefore City Water Circles aims to introduce and promote water efficiency measures and the (re)use of non-conventional local water resources like rainwater and greywater for public and domestic purposes in and around public and residential buildings in order to reduce water consumption and alleviate pressure on over-exploited water resources of CE functional urban areas. Recognising that cities can be the main drivers and focal points of circular water use revolution, the project will equip the involved CE municipalities with improved capacities for coordinating and facilitating the implementation of sustainable decentralised water (re)use systems by creating supportive and coherent regulatory, organisational and operational frameworks integrated with the existing environmental management and urban planning systems. All these efforts will be accompanied by strong participatory processes resulting in new forms of partnerships backed by innovative cooperative arrangements between public authorities, service providers and stakeholders like citizens, businesses, non-profit organisations.
Results The following main project outputs are envisaged:
• Transnational guidelines for circular urban water use on different scales (neighbourhood, building, household) incorporating innovative technology portfolios; recommended policy instruments such as regulatory incentives and mandates (e.g. green procurement, standards for installation of water saving devices and reuse systems in new construction buildings), financial incentives; smart organisational, management and business models built on participatory methods; and efficient public awareness raising and informal education tools for water conservation;
• Local strategies for circular urban water use, applicable in the whole FUA of the involved municipalities and replicable in other CE regions;
• Knowledge inventory on best innovative practices of urban water (re)use and a practical training material for public authorities, also including participatory (water) governance methods;
• FUA level open innovation platforms for exploring new, creative technologies and grassroots initiatives tackling collaborative management practices related to urban water reuse;
• Pilot actions initiating institutionalised stakeholder cooperation frameworks, such as community-based management schemes built on shared responsibility between the authority and citizens implementing and maintaining local scale urban water reuse actions.
As a direct effect of the project, public authorities and related entities, along with relevant stakeholders of the involved regions will gain improved human, institutional and management capacities in the field of water resources management which is a key and integral part of environment management. Implementation of novel water (re)use measures backed by dynamic public dialogue and new collaborative platforms will contribute to improving water quality, enhancing water conservation and preserving precious water resources in the long run, thereby improving the environmental performance and climate resilience of regions, thus making them more liveable places.
Cost Approx. EUR 2,2 M
Duration 36 months
Partners involved City of Budapest, District 14 Zugló Municipality (LP)
Partners requested Cities or capital districts with a population of more than 50.000 people
Regional development agencies
Knowledge institutions with expertise in water reuse, Green Infrastructure and social innovation (participatory techniques)
Innovation Introducing rainwater harvesting and greywater reuse schemes in public or residential buildings is quite an untapped potential in many CE cities, therefore promoting these solutions by City Water Circles would deliver a clear benefit for the region. Besides exploring and diffusing smart technologies partly through open innovation platforms, the project will also address social innovation by exploring and implementing novel cooperation forms with empowering communities in the field of water resources management.
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