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“The key to a successful project? Working in a participatory way.” Calzada del Agua has addressed water security challenges in the Mexican City of Oaxaca with innovative spatial planning and BlueBloqs technology. Their feasibility study, funded by Partners for Water, has been successfully finalized. Below, consortium partner Adrian Puentes elaborates on the study’s conclusion, the project’s impact and the next steps to come.

Mexico faces the challenge of managing both floods and droughts. To address this issues, Adrian Puentes, Architect and Urban Planner at BD+P, and consortium partners FieldFactors and Centro SC, introduced a circular water system featuring BlueBloqs technology. This approach enables the local collection, purification and underground storage of rainwater, and facilitates its reuse. Their feasibility study has now successfully come to an end. We spoke with Adrian about the outcomes, the impact and the next steps to come.

Did you know FieldFactors won the Partners for Water Award?

Outcomes of the feasibility study

“An important outcome of the feasibility study is that the traditional market square in we selected in the City of Oaxaca turns out the be the perfect location for a pilot of our circular water system. It has a high gap between water demand and availability, has great potential for creating social impact and the right physical conditions for technical and legal feasibility,” says Adrian enthusiastically. He continuous: “We encountered roadblocks due to legal regulations, but we customized our final technical proposal and managed to successfully create a promising business case.” Another outcome of the feasibility study was the development of an urban toolbox by Adrian and his team. This tool helps in the decision-making process for selecting urban spaces where their BlueBloqs solution can be applied.

Local impact

“Apart from naturally recharging the area’s aquafer, the project has also a social impact on the local people,” Adrian says. He explains: “The locals working in the market have formed various factions. Before the start of the project, they often clashed over different views on managing the market square. However, the project has united them with a strong, collective desire for its success.” Their collective enthusiasm for the project comes from the fact that they often face water shortages which results in expensive water deliveries by truck. “Our solution projects to reduce their water expenses by 50% while ensuring a more reliable and consistent water supply,” explains Adrian.

Additionally, the square is set to undergo a transformation from a deteriorated, relatively unsafe area to an accessible, green space with comfortable seating, prominent water features and enhanced nighttime lighting. Adrian: “This will make it a safer and more inviting place.”

Stakeholder involvement

“Working in a participatory way is the key to a successful project,” Adrian states. “From the beginning, we have involved many stakeholders. From the area’s residents to the water sector, heritage institutes and the municipality. Not only to involve them, but also to truly understand the people, the community and their relation to water.” Adrian explains that they incorporated this by conducting formal workshops and meetings, but also through informal ways, such as cycling around and socialising with the community. Adrian: “I think trying to be humble and aim to learn from the local community at first, and then incorporate these understandings into the solution makes an invaluable difference”.

The next steps

“With the positive results of the feasibility study, we are determined to move forward with the pilot project to proof the working of the system; technically as well as socially. Both the local people and the municipality of Oaxaca strongly support the project, so the next step is to secure funding for the pilot and develop the executive plan.” Adrian is very positive about the potential for the project to scale up. He says: “There are many squares like this in Oaxaca, and more than 100,000 markets in Mexico with similar water challenges and business cases. Many municipalities have expressed their interested in our collaboration already, so the future of our BlueBloqs solution looks promising.”

Innovation in progress series

During the Partners for Water programme 2022 – 2027, several projects that received the Partners for Water subsidy will be followed from start to finish. Over the next few years, they will take you with them on their transformative journey. You’ll be able to gain insights into their promising solutions, innovative processes and collaborations with local partners, as well as their struggles, challenges and valuable lessons learned. Stay tuned and follow their journey through the Partners for Water website and our LinkedIn page!

Partners for Water LinkedIn

Partners for Water has granted subsidies to 6 consortia that aim to enhance water security abroad with innovative solutions. This is the result of the third round of subsidies under the Partners for Water 2022-2027 programme. The scheme provides an opportunity for companies, knowledge institutions and NGOs in the water sector to research and test their approaches to sustainable water management. Discover the 6 innovative solutions below.

For the feasibility studies and pilot projects, the organisations that have been granted a subsidy will work in Portugal, Mexico, Ethiopia, Morocco, Egypt and Ghana.

 

1. Ecological breakwaters for a resilient coast (Mexico)

The Delft-based start-up ‘Reefy’ aims to address climate-change-induced challenges threatening the Mexican coastline and the Mesoamerican Reef. Their innovative solution, the ‘ReefBlock’, is a huge Lego-like block featuring a complex system of tunnels and can be assembled to form an underwater artificial reef. It serves not only as a foundation for reef growth but also as a submerged breakwater to protect the coastline. Reefy will undertake a detailed feasibility study in collaboration with local partners to assess the conditions and stakeholder interests, setting the groundwork for a future pilot project.

 

2. Enhanced water retention in building facades (Portugal)

Portugal is on the frontline of Europe’s climate change impacts and faces more extreme weather each year. Densely built areas exacerbate these effects, increasing flooding risks and indoor and outdoor temperatures. The Rainmate® systems project is set to research the feasibility of a passive, scalable technology for enhanced water retention in building facades. The water retained by this system is used to help mitigate heat in urban areas and provides a sustainable solution to the challenges posed by climate change.

Consortium: Blue Innovations B.V., Neoturf Espaços Verdes and Flax Sarl.

 

3. Hydroponic methods to combat soil salinity and water scarcity (Egypt)

The ProSal-Hydro project introduces a low-tech, low cost, open field hydroponic system (LTLCH) to enhance irrigation efficiency for smallholder farmers in the Nile Delta and to combat local salinisation. Vegetables will grow in shallow basins with their roots in the water, saving up to 80 to 90% of water compared to open field sprinkler irrigation systems. This allows for higher yields and consistent quality, and it is expected to be an affordable method with higher income for the farmer. With the funding from Partners for Water, the consortium will pilot the system in four locations in Egypt and aims to build local capacity to enhance the sustainable operations of the installed systems.

Consortium: Delphy B.V., The Salt Doctors B.V. and Plug ‘n’ Grow.

 

4. Accessible open data on agricultural water consumption monitoring (Morocco)

The Eleaf project addresses the issue of water shortages in the Tensift Basin, Morocco, that hinder local agricultural development. The consortium aims to empower local authorities and professionals without prior GIS experience with better tools for law enforcement, planning, monitoring and advising on water management by converting complex high-resolution geographical data on agricultural water consumption into user-friendly dashboards. This should result in enhanced decision-making and planning for agricultural water management.

Consortium: Eleaf and Resing

 

5. Three-part urban flood forecasting system (Ethiopia)

A consortium led by HKV will address the significant challenges in flood management that are faced by the local water authorities of Dire Dawa, Ethiopia, by implementing a three-part urban flood forecasting system. This innovative solution will utilise the rapid flood inundation model SFINCS, integrated with HydroMT, to better predict and understand the effects of floods. This approach not only provides valuable weather insights but also generates steering information for flood management, emergency response and adaptation measures.

Consortium: HKV, Deltares, the Dutch Red Cross, Tahmo and ICPAC.

 

6. Innovative community water treatment system (Ghana)

Element15, Climate Focus and Fix that Pump will demonstrate and improve a community water treatment system designed to retrofit existing water infrastructures in Ghana’s rural areas. Their innovative BAR treatment system delivers water that is safe for consumption without requiring energy to operate the process. During the pilot phase, the consortium aims to have the BAR system certified by the World Health Organization and to improve its sustainability through carbon credit market financing. To test the operational feasibility, the project will go through the entire validation and verification cycle of certifying the project for carbon credits.

Consortium: Element15, Climate Focus and Fix that Pump.

Would you like to participate in the next subsidy round?

The subsidy scheme aims to support innovative projects from entrepreneurs, knowledge institutions and NGOs in the Dutch water sector that improve water security abroad.
A new subsidy round will open in July. To be eligible, you can apply now for the mandatory intake interview.

Apply or read more about it here.

Are you a professional in the water sector and looking for funding for an innovative project abroad? The next round of the Partners for Water subsidy scheme opens at the 19th of January! The intake interviews for 2024’s first round of the Partners for Water subsidy scheme just closed. However, a second subsidy round will open in July. To be eligible, you can apply now for the mandatory intake interview.

Partners for Water (PVW-IVWW) subsidy scheme

The Partners for Water programme 2022-2027 is designed to foster public-private partnerships and promote innovative sustainable water management projects. The programme includes seven subsidy rounds for the Dutch water sector. This will be the fourth round. The subsidy scheme focuses on supporting feasibility studies and pilot projects that generate new knowledge and experiences to scale up Dutch innovations. Additionally, Partners for Water organises networking activities to share insights and experiences. By developing new innovations, the Dutch water sector contributes to the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.

Who is it for?

This opportunity is for entrepreneurs, knowledge institutions and NGOs in the Dutch water sector who want to work globally. Specifically, it is for those who want to conduct feasibility studies and pilot projects for innovative solutions related to water security in deltas, delta cities and in river basins abroad.

Sign up for a required intake interview

The next round of the Partners for Water subsidy scheme starts at the 19th of January! The intake interviews for 2024’s first round of the Partners for Water subsidy scheme just closed. However, a second subsidy round will open in July. To be eligible, you can apply now for the mandatory intake interview. Sign up here for a mandatory intake interview. During the intake interview, you can discuss the terms of the scheme with our advisor.

Have you already had an intake interview with our advisor? Then you can apply for the subsidy via our application page. There you will also find the required forms to include with your application.

Intake interview & Application page

The Partners for Water programme has granted a subsidy to a total of fifteen innovative projects in ten countries

These feasibility studies and pilot projects are designed to test innovative products or services locally, with the goal of further improvements and upscaling. The projects are all centred on water security. Many of them have been set up by a consortium of international organisations and are carried out in various countries: Brazil (two), Costa Rica and Jordan to Kenya, Morocco, Nepal, Namibia, the Philippines (two), Suriname and Vietnam (four).

Kick-off meeting

The project teams submitted applications for the second round of Partner for Waters’ subsidy scheme and all received the good news in May 2023 that their application’s had been approved. They also received an invitation for a special kick-off meeting at the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) in The Hague on June 15th.

At that event, project team members met the RVO employees behind Partners for Water and everyone celebrated the beginning of their respective initiatives. Additionally, they had the opportunity to showcase their innovative solutions and to hear about the ten projects that had received Partners for Water subsidies in the first round of funding, in December 2022. Managers of these first-round subsidised projects were there in attendance to share their experiences to date.

RVO employees and team members of projects that successfully applied for subsidy in the second Partners for Water funding round.

The fifteen projects

Which organisations are behind the innovative pilot projects and feasibility studies that were granted subsidies? What are their aims? And how do the projects carry out their objectives?

Improvement of wastewater (Brazil) [pilot project]

The SolidUS consortium aims to develop a low-cost ultrasonic sensor for real-time monitoring of solids concentration in wastewater treatment plants. This innovative sensor can be used in water treatment facilities with a UASB reactor. The sensor will save time enabling better control of the installations outflow, which will improve waste water quality. The consortium consists of NHL Stenden Hogeschool, Lamp-lon, YNOVIO, CR-ETES and Federal University of Minas Gerais.

Sustainable water from the air (Brazil) [pilot project]

The goal of the Solaq B.V. consortium is to further develop their ground breaking air-to-water technology. Called ‘WaterWin’, the technology powered by solar energy extracts drinking water from the air in semi-arid regions of Brazil. Thanks to its cost-effectiveness, WaterWin enables more affordable water rates. The consortium consists of NHL Stenden Hogeschool, the Brazilian research institute FUNCEME and the Brazillian NGO SISAR.

Detection and monitoring Harmful Algae Blooms (Costa Rica) [pilot project]

Globally, Harmful Algae Blooms (HABs) can threaten water quality, coastal ecosystems and industry sectors such as seafood, fishing and tourism. Without reliable information, as to the location of HABS, no proper measures can be taken. The consortium MAReS (Water Insight, the Costa Rican University UNA and Kaune Ingenieros & Arquitectos) will use remote sensing technology and on-site measurements to provide near-real-time and spatial information on HABs in Costa Rican coastal areas.

Seawater Desalination (Jordan) [pilot project]

The Dutch company Delft Offshore Turbine B.V. intends to test a device that combines wind energy production with a reverse osmosis-based purification technology and state-of-the-art brine management. The device will produce high quality desalinated water along with electricity derived from wind energy. The project will be located in the port of Aqaba in Jordan, a country in dire need of water scarcity solutions.

Reducing water losses in utility systems’ (Kenya) [feasibility study]

The consortium Smart City Kenya will test the Upande Non-Revenue Water (NRW) system. This innovative combination of hardware and software aims to reduce water losses of utility systems through real-time, automatic water flow/pressure measurement. At the same time, consumers will be able to view their water consumption data via their smartphones. The consortium consists of Upande BV, TagMeter Systems BV, Kisumu Water and Sanitation Company Lt., KIWASCO and Runda Water.

Water-efficient method for vegetable cultivation (Morocco) [pilot project]

There is a severe water shortage in the Souss-Massa plain in southwestern Morocco where agricultural activities use the most amount of water. Seed2Feed, Priva, Hortitech, the Agricultural University of Agadir and the Moroccan Fruit Export Association are addressing this issue together. They want to demonstrate a water-efficient method for vegetable growing that uses closed and manageable irrigation systems that recycle and disinfect water, eliminating the need for a growth medium, like soil.

Rewilding Namibian oceans (Namibia) [pilot project]

On a 1,5-hectare offshore site off the south coast of Namibia, Kelp Blue Holdfast B.V. will initiate a pilot project to cultivate giant kelp forests. The goal of the project is to absorb CO₂, deacidify the water, restore damaged ecosystems and enhance biodiversity. Kelp Blue will monitor and evaluate the project and test a business model for selling kelp-based products that would help to finance the project’s future expansion. The local community will also be closely involved as well as two Namibian universities.

 

Roads for landscape improvement (Nepal) [pilot project]

MetaMeta Research, FutureWater and the International Centre for Integrated Mountain Development will collaborate in order to address the declining and irregular flow of water springs in Nepal’s mountainous Dhankuta municipality. The project aims to protect and enhance natural springs while ensuring reliable water supplies and maintaining road infrastructure quality by reimagining roads as tools for landscape improvement. The Department of Local Infrastructure will oversee the projects implementation.

Decentralised wastewater treatment (The Philippines) [feasibility study]

Y-Consultancy will conduct a feasibility study to demonstrate the viability of their decentralised wastewater treatment (WWT) technology in Luzon, the largest island in The Philippines. This innovative solution is based on a ‘drainblock’: a water filter that works on a trickle-down method. The WWT technology is meant to improve the quality of water resources, reduce the risk of waterborne diseases and serve as a blueprint for other communities in the region for improving their wastewater treatment.

Fungus removal from water for bananas (The Philippines) [pilot project]

The company VGE has developed an innovative ultraviolet (UV-C) disinfection system, specifically meant to disinfect water from the fungus TR4 fusarium. This fusarium is an increasing threat for banana plantations around the world. Together with A-Banana Foundation (ABF), VGE will conduct a pilot project installing their TR4 disinfection system on a full-scale banana plantation in The Philippines. The objective is to achieve safe irrigation, resulting in improved water security for banana plantations.

Increased mangrove restoration (Suriname) [feasibility study]

Consortium partners Deltares, Boskalis, InterConnect, Conservation International Suriname and the Anton de Kom University of Suriname will study the feasibility of using sediments dredged from the Suriname river to accelerate mangrove restoration. Using sediments for intertidal area restoration is unique and promises to be an effective solution. In addition, lessons learned will be valuable for replicating and mainstreaming this restoration method in other regions.

Rainwater filtration and water purification (Vietnam) [pilot project]

Wageningen University, WIC, PBI International, Can Tho University and Stepsvn Installation Company joined forces to test an innovative technology for rainwater filtration and water purification. The aim of the consortium is to remove waterborne diseases and pesticides in an efficient and cost-effective way. In doing so, they hope to increase water security in the Mekon Delta and provide the inhabitants with safe drinking water.

Sustainable adaptation to salt intrusion (Vietnam) [pilot project]

Consortium Mekong Salt Lab will test an operational model for smallholder farmers in the Mekong Delta. This solution includes a number of cutting-edge techniques and services that provide sustainable alternatives to effectively adapt to increasing salt intrusion in the region. This will also increase farmers livelihoods. The consortium consists of The Water Agency, The Salt Doctors, Acacia Water, SkillEd, HZ University of Applied Sciences, Saxion University, Kim Delta Vietnam and Tra Vinh University.

Aquifer storage and recovery system (Vietnam) [pilot project]

The HaWaSuCo, BGR and WWF consortium will begin a pilot project to implement a single aquifer storage and recovery system. It will be the first infiltration well in the Mekong Delta, Vietnam. The consortium aims to demonstrate its success, share the results, carry out marketability and cost-benefit analyses and engage stakeholders in scaling up. If successful, this innovative solution could have a significant impact on water security in the region.

Optimising irrigation and fertiliser application (Vietnam) [pilot project]

Fresh Studio, HollandDoor, Ridder Group and Royal Brinkman will conduct a pilot project to re-use drain water on two farms in Lam Dong province. Applying ViaLite and FertiMix technologies will reduce the spread of diseases and ensure plants receive the right amount of nutrients. The technologies will also eliminate drain water leakage, optimise irrigation and fertiliser applications, increase water availability and improve the regions quality of both fresh and groundwater

Are you interested in the next subsidy round?

The intake interviews for 2024’s first round of the Partners for Water subsidy scheme just closed. However, a second subsidy round will open in July. To be eligible, you can apply now for the mandatory intake interview. For more information, you can visit the Netherlands Enterprise Agency (RVO) website.

Visit the RVO website for more information

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