Horizon Europe is the EU’s key funding programme for research and innovation.
Read more about the Horizon Europe programme here.
This call aims to improve the sustainability of various alternative water supply resources in the context of climate change and water scarcity adaptation.
In support of the European Green Deal and EU water-related policies, successful proposals will contribute to fostering the adaptation of water resources to climate change, in particular the expected impact of the Destination ‘Land, ocean and water for climate action’ to “Advance understanding and science to support adaptation and resilience of natural and managed ecosystems, ocean, water and soil systems and economic sectors in the context of the changing climate”.
Projects results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
The search for affordable, acceptable and reliable solutions is today a common challenge for water supply planners. A changing climate and increasing water scarcity, population growth, urbanisation and intensifying economic activities have put a strain on traditional water resources, which typically rely on available surface and groundwater resources. Ensuring the availability and sustainability of both surface and groundwater is a key element of the new EU strategy on adaptation to climate change.
According to a recent report on the drivers of and pressures arising from selected key water management challenges (EEA, 2021), water abstraction for public water supply, agriculture and industry is the main significant cause of failure to achieve good quantitative status. Over abstraction of surface water bodies can alter freshwater ecosystems and have adverse ecological effects, including decline of biodiversity. In addition, the over abstraction of groundwater bodies can lower groundwater levels with further impacts on groundwater-dependent aquatic ecosystems and cause salinisation of coastal aquifers, making them unusable for drinking water supply.
To address these problems and in order to improve the security of water supply, alternative water resources, such as rainwater harvesting, storm water, water reuse and reclamation, brackish and sea water desalination, aquifer recharge, are increasingly being used by water managers in rural, coastal and urban areas. However, in many case, the implementation of several alternative water resources is not sustainable and not embedded in a strategic integrated water management plan at river basin or regional scale. In many cases the negative environmental impacts and associated infrastructure maintenance and investments costs are not properly assessed, nor the costs associated with meeting the EU water policy related requirements (i.e. WFD requirements). Finally, the public/social acceptance of several alternative water resources is lacking and this prevent their further implementation and market uptake. Further research and innovation is needed for making full use of alternative water resources.
Additionally, assessments and recommendations of how alternative water supply sources and infrastructures can relate to existing - mostly centralized - water utility regimes remain unexplored and there is a need to explore how the regulations around these centralized regimes can support infrastructure diversification.
The objective of this action is to improve the sustainability of various alternative water supply resources in the context of climate change and water scarcity adaptation. To achieve this objective the following issues should be addressed:
The possible participation of the JRC in the selected project would ensure that the approach proposed can be integrated as a scenario in the tool used by the European Commission for the estimation of water availability.
This action should bring together relevant researchers, technology providers, water utilities, business representatives, investors, policy makers and other water users and citizens. The active participation and engagement of different stakeholders should span the entire project development and implementation to ensure performance and sustainability and maximise the final impact.
Proposals should cover various regions with a balanced coverage reflecting the various biogeographical and climate zones in Europe in a representative way.
The inclusion of relevant SSH expertise would be also needed to ensure the proposed solutions are also socially accepted.
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the eligible countries, i.e.:
Unless otherwise provided for in the specific call conditions, legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes:
The total indicative budget for the topic is EUR 10.00 million.
The Commission estimates that an EU contribution of around EUR 3.30 million would allow these outcomes to be addressed appropriately.