Innovation is not the invention of something new, but actually it is “bringing it to market”, or putting it into practice and exploiting it in a manner that leads to new products, services or systems that add value or improve quality for customers, operators and the environment. The report “Innovating for a greener future: European water service priorities” by EurEau, the European federation of national associations of water services, points out that, for the water sector, innovation must not be limited to technological developments, but also comprises other aspects like including governance, communication, public policy and partnerships.
Barriers for innovation in the water sector
The organization sees that water utilities in nearly all EU Member States continue to face problems in accessing and implementing innovative solutions. These problems seem not primarily be caused by the lack of technological solutions but rather by the policy side which regulates the capacity of water utilities to invest in innovation. The barriers that may slow down innovation in the water sector include:
- inflexible and prescriptive legislation;
- missing LCA data showing that new solutions do not only address on particular issue, but provide wider sustainability benefits;
- a lack of knowledge on innovative solutions;
- a lack of innovative financing solutions;
- technological solutions not adapted to the needs of water service providers;
- a lack of public support.
Over 350 proposals for innovation
EurEau members reported over 350 proposals for innovation and the authors regrouped them by topics and also grouped those, which tackle the same ideas. All proposals are presented in three different schemes belonging to the topics drinking water, wastewater and horizontal matters (that are relevant for both, drinking water and wastewater: security of the sector, digitalization, governance, sustainable business models and asset management). Furthermore, the proposals are linked to the list of the EurEau’s 10 challenges for the water sector as well to the targets of the European Green Deal.
The full report is available on the website of EurEau.