More than 150 interested parties - companies, water users, water experts and technology suppliers - attended the first 'Samen over Water' event at the WaterClimateHub in Ostend on Thursday 21 April. They found each other in lectures and discussions on sustainable water management.

The WaterClimateHub at the Ostend Science Park is a research and innovation hub within VITO and its main task is to accelerate the implementation of solutions for current and future water challenges.

This first 'Samen over Water' event focused on the two biggest water topics: doing more with less water and getting a grip on pollutants. Besides the plenary part, interactive sessions were organised in which companies could present their plans of approach and their solutions to the public.

The interest was particularly high, which once again shows how much everyone is aware that without water and good water management, there is no future.

"We cannot underestimate the socio-economic importance of water," said Flemish Minister for Economy, Agriculture and Innovation Hilde Crevits (CD&V) in her introduction. She pointed out the need to move up a gear in order to limit the water risk in Flanders. She emphasised that cooperation is crucial. Something that is also one of the core tasks of the WaterClimateHub, which was set up last year on the minister's initiative.”

"The name of this new VITO site - the WaterClimateHub - is not random," explained Inge Genné, programme manager for Water Management and Technology "Water plays an essential role in climate adaptation. Eighty per cent of the measures needed to adapt to climate change involve water. At the same time, the first signals we are getting from climate change are water-related. Solutions must be sought in technological, social and economic innovation."

In the Water Climate Hub, all actors will be able to find each other and work together, and they will also be able to make use of the very broad water-climate expertise that VITO has in its portfolio. An example of this cooperation is currently being put into practice on the business park of Tielt-Noord in WaterProof, a project that is also part of the Blue Deal. "With this project, we are looking at how we can reduce water damage caused by droughts or floods, how we can limit the need for water and how we can gain extra profit from connecting water users/consumers," explained Wim Schiettecatte (VITO).

Dirk Halet, strategic coordinator of Vlakwa, pointed out that water is a linking factor between different systems - such as mobility, energy, transport, raw materials, health ... - so that decisions within one system can have consequences for other systems.

Dirk Fransaer, Managing Director of VITO, ended on a critical note, criticising the way in which water bills are currently calculated for citizens and companies. He pleads for a separate invoicing system and separate meters that measure the consumption on the one hand and the wastewater on the other hand.

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