Urban water supply systems – IMPREX Fact Sheet

Cover Urban water supply systems
adelphi 2019: Urban water supply systems. IMPREX Fact Sheet. adelphi.

Water is a vital natural resource and, as such, an integral part of our environment and climate system. Excessive water exposure during flood conditions and water scarcity during droughts pose fundamental risks to life and weaken socio-economic resilience. Present-day water management in many sectors has to be able to cope with extreme hydrological conditions.

The European research project IMPREX (IMproving PRedictions and management of hydrological EXtremes) was funded under the EU Framework Programme Horizon 2020. The project consortium, consisting of 23 renowned partners from nine countries, took up the challenge of developing methods and tools to improve predictions of hydro-meteorological extremes. The research focused on adapting climate information to the needs of six core sectors: flood risk assessments, hydropower, water transport, urban water management, agriculture and droughts. 

adelphi has developed a fact sheet for each sector. These describe and explain the most important products, provide practical examples, analyse implementation challenges for practitioners and show how IMPREX products can facilitate processes. The fact sheets are based on the work carried out within the context of the IMPREX research project and interviews with involved stakeholders.

In Europe, billions of cubic meters of freshwater are used every day for drinking purposes, for irrigation, manufacturing, heating and cooling, as well as in service sectors such as tourism. The urban water supply is susceptible to weather extremes such as droughts and floods. This vulnerability puts a huge strain on Europe’s water quality and supplies, challenging treatment capacity, drinking water safety and supply reliability.

This fact sheet presents new water quality forecast approaches that enhance the operational efficiency of water treatment plants (DWTPs) and help reduce freshwater resources’ vulnerability to hydro-climatic extremes. The approaches link meteorological and climate information to water quality models and new treatment techniques in order to control water quality risks.

The IMPREX project team tested the approaches in numerous Spanish river basins, focusing on the improved management of high turbidity events for DWTPs, advanced control of the risk of cyanotoxins and the forecasting of algae development in water reservoirs. Working together with the SUEZ Company AQUATEC, which manages the water intake of a treatment plant in Spain, the project team used a newly developed approach to control risks of cyanotoxins. This innovative solution enables effective and efficient decision making by the operational plant management. The company can now detect risks at an early stage to guarantee reliable and safe drinking water supply and the DWTP’s economic efficiency.

Further fact sheets from this project:

Policy recommendations:

Comprehensive brochure: