Drinking water - clean, refreshing and healthy!

A close look at water quality

Climate change is challenging water suppliers in Europe. Rising temperatures and heavy rainfall are leading to changes in water quality. The SafeCREW research project is investigating known and previously unknown by-products - in order to provide people with safe and clean drinking water in the future.

Turn on the tap, fill the glass and take the first big sip...delicious! Especially on hot summer days, there is no easier way to quench your thirst. At the same time, the number one foodstuff is used to make coffee, cook pasta or prepare a delicious soup. We take it for granted that clean drinking water comes out of the tap. In many places in the world, this is not the case. There, water from the tap is not always safe to drink. In Europe, tap water is suitable for drinking everywhere due to common legislation, but in some cases it has to be treated and disinfected at great expense.

Is disinfection necessary?

The SafeCREW project is investigating how the drinking water supply in Europe can be guaranteed and how sufficient clean water will be available in the future. The name stands for "Climate Resilient Management for Safe Disinfected and Non-Disinfected Water Supply Systems". This is because not all countries can do without disinfecting their drinking water. In Germany, this is largely unnecessary, as two thirds of the water is pure groundwater. In southern Europe, on the other hand, disinfection of drinking water is usually necessary - due to generally higher temperatures or when surface water from rivers is used for drinking water treatment. Sodium hypochlorite, for example, is used for this, colloquially known as "chlorinating" the water. A bit like in a swimming pool, you can recognise this from a certain concentration by the distinctive smell. However, UV light and ozone can also be used for disinfection during treatment. The SafeCREW cooperation partners in Milan and Tarragona are investigating what the future might look like in this area.

Drinking water research for the next 30 years

Dr Anissa Grieb is coordinating the SafeCREW project at the DVGW Research Centre at TU Hamburg: "Our task is to find out what challenges climate change will bring in order to continue providing clean drinking water throughout the EU in the future and what measures will be necessary to protect consumers." Temperatures are also expected to rise here and heavy rainfall is expected to increase - events that could potentially pollute drinking water more and require adapted drinking water management. Over the next three years, the three European case studies, each with their own regional challenges, will analyse how drinking water can be provided safely in the future.

The DVGW Research Centre, affiliated to Prof. Mathias Ernst's Institute of Water Resources and Water Supply, is coordinating this Horizon Europe project with a total of 11 project partners.

Further information

To the website of the SafeCREW research project

Read the entire article in the current issue of spektrum (in German)