Providing top-quality drinking water for our clients at any time of the day. That is what we aim for. Adequate treatment, both robust and flexible, is a crucial part of that. We want to be able to anticipate water quality trends and developments, and to provide equally reliable drinking water at any time. This starts with groundwater quality. We aspire to treat the water with minimal effort, so that we do not need to use more commodities and energy than necessary. That requires more fundamental knowledge about our treatment processes.

Motive for more research

IT in relation to the process of producing water
In the future, sensors and calculation models allow real-time information on water quality and quantity. Not only during the treatment process, but also before and after. Because of that, it will be possible to remotely control (and optimise) treatment processes and to predict maintenance requirements of facilities. To control this process, a better insight into chemical, physical and biological treatment processes is essential.

Foreign substances
In recent years, the quality of our sources has decreased. Through improved measuring techniques, we more often detect more and different types of toxic and organic substances. That is also the prospect for the future. In spite of our aim to minimize treatment efforts, advanced treatment techniques are essential (from the source onwards), as are the knowledge and insight to apply those.

Resource consumption is being reduced, as are CO2-emission and energy consumption. Waste flows are optimally utilised. That is the societal challenge that we as Vitens stand for, and that also applies to our treatment process. For example, by searching new destinations for residual substances such as the concentrate of membrane filters for brackish groundwater, and using climate-neutral raw materials in the treatment process.

Objectives of this research theme
  • Reliable and stable water quality through automated, standardised and uniform treatment processes;
  • A treatment process that is able to anticipate external influences on water quality and quantity, and to answer complex questions in this regard;
  • Rendering treatment processes sustainable and providing a high-quality use of all waste flows, including concentrate;
  • Transition from a skills-controlled to a data-controlled treatment process.

Work packages

Theme Treatment has the following work packages:

Sand filtration

The goal of this work package is developing knowledge and models for rapid sand filters that remove iron, aluminium, ammonium and manganese from groundwater. This shall result in clear design guidelines, total process control and a smaller load on the distribution network.

Process control and treatment

The goal of this work package is an autonomously controlled, managed and optimally functioning treatment process, that is continuously connected to other steps of the process. Models, sensors and data (from the treatment process and the laboratory) provide the basis for this. In addition, more knowledge is required of the biological, chemical and physical processes that form part of the treatment process.

Resilient purification

The goal of this work package is developing techniques and knowledge to remove unwanted substances from groundwater, while reducing residual substances (or disposing of these in a high-quality manner). The goal is a fully circular treatment system that is sustainable, while being able to cope with a polluted source.


Questions, recommendations or an advice?
Theme ambassador Abel Heinsbroek is available via