Waterdruppel in handen

Mapping and tackling water risks and smart use of water within the sectors of (sea) food, aquaculture, textiles and tourism.

Why this project?

A VOKA survey showed that 70% of businesses fear a water shortage, but 90% do not have a contingency plan in place. In addition, 80% cannot switch to an alternative water source and 81% cannot take preventative measures to temporarily and significantly decrease water consumption at short notice. To avoid this, businesses must evaluate and adapt their water consumption because doing nothing comes at significant costs and risks.

How can a business determine which measures are necessary?

To answer this question the WATERBAROMETER tool is being developed. With this tool, a business gains insight into their water management, the risks that come with the use of certain water sources and the presence of alternative water sources in the vicinity. Various measures are also proposed in which the business can invest in better water management and reduce the risk of a water shortage. In other words, the business will be able to see in one glance which measures are most interesting for them to invest in. The focus is on alternative water sources, monitoring and digitisation. Applicable legislation is also considered.

Research approach

Smart WaterUse is a collective research, development and dissemination project (type COOCK) as well as a cross-sectoral (intercluster) project with the objective of mapping out and minimising water risks in the (sea) food, aquaculture, textile and tourism sectors. 

Concretely, in this project we want to reach our objective by:  

  • Developing a generic online tool, the WATERBAROMETER tool.  This maps out the water and drought risks and uses the scores to propose various measures/working points. In other words, the business will be able to see in one glance which measures are most interesting for them to invest in.  
  • Scenarios by calculating for the application of alternative water sources. For example, which chain of technologies is needed to use the rainwater from a neighbouring business as process water and what will this cost? 
  • Demonstration workshops via pilot installations that show how to tackle water risks through monitoring and data digitisation.
  • Clarifying water legislation to each sector. 

Target group and expected results

The target group for this project is businesses that depend on water, SMEs as well as LEs, from the (sea) food, aquaculture, textile and tourism sectors. It does not matter if they are water-intensive businesses or whether they use large or small amounts of water. The project is aimed at businesses that are not yet (sufficiently) aware of their water management and have no idea which (drought) measures to invest in first. Businesses that have already invested in a smart water management system can still find new tools and technologies to implement through this project.  

An additional target group is the water technology companies, SMEs as well as LEs, that can offer solutions to water-dependent businesses, including consultancy services and effective investment in technologies. 

The WATERBAROMETER will make businesses aware of their vulnerability to water risks in a simple yet well-thought-out manner. The tool will be developed generically based on the input of the guidance group and then made public to the broader target group. Via demonstrations, workshops and networking events, the target group businesses and the water technology industry will be brought together for the implementation of water technologies. After the implementation of a specific water measure, the company will receive a better score on the WATERBAROMETER, which means a reduced water risk. Financially, this can result in maintaining or increasing production or jobs and a better environmental performance for the target group businesses. The financial impact for the water technology companies is clearly focused on opportunities to sell installations to the target group businesses, with a potential spillover to other water-dependent sectors, such as the chemical sector. 

Project partners

Flanders’ FOOD manages and coordinates the intercluster project.  

Responsibility for the execution: The Blauwe Cluster, CENTEXBEL, VITO, Watercircle.be, University Ghent, Fevia and VLAKWA.