Increasing Water System Robustness in the Netherlands: Potential of Cross-Sectoral Water Reuse

G.J. Pronk*, S.F. Stofberg, T.C.G.W. Van Dooren, M.M.L. Dingemans, J. Frijns, N.E. Koeman-Stein, P.W.M.H. Smeets, R.P. Bartholomeus

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


Water reuse has the potential to substantially reduce the demand on groundwater and surface water. This study presents a method to evaluate the potential of water reuse schemes in a regional context and demonstrates how water reuse propagates through the water system and potentially reduces pressure on groundwater resources. The use of Sankey diagram visualisation provides a valuable tool to explore and evaluate regional application of water reuse, its potential to reduce groundwater and surface water demand, and the possible synergies and trade-offs between sectors. The approach is demonstrated for the Dutch anthropogenic water system in the current situation and for a future scenario with increased water demand and reduced water availability due to climate change. Four types of water reuse are evaluated by theoretically upscaling local or regional water reuse schemes based on local reuse examples currently in operation in the Netherlands or Flanders: municipal and industrial wastewater effluent reuse for irrigation, effluent reuse for industrial applications, and reuse for groundwater replenishment. In all cases, water reuse has the potential to significantly reduce groundwater extraction volume, and thus to alleviate the pressure on the groundwater system. The water-quantity based analysis is placed in the context of water quality demands, health and safety aspects, technological requirements, regulations, public perception, and its net impact on the environment. This integrative context is essential for a successful implementation of water reuse in practice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3721-3735
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number11
Early online date17 Aug 2021
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Wastewater
  • Water reuse
  • Water stress
  • Water system robustness


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