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Holistic approaches for effective monitoring of water quality in urban areas
Horizon Europe - Cluster 6 - Destination 4: Clean Environment and Zero Pollution
Estimated EU contribution per project
Link to the call
Link to the submission
In line with the European Green Deal’s zero pollution ambition, successful proposals will contribute to protecting water quality by managing urban water pollution, and consequently also protecting biodiversity and the quality of aquatic ecosystems, as addressed by several impacts under the Destination ‘Clean environment and zero pollution’, in particular “Move towards achieving clean, unpolluted surface water and groundwater bodies in the EU by advancing the understanding of diffuse and point sources of water pollution in a global and climate change context, enabling novel solutions to avoid degradation and restore water bodies, aquatic ecosystems and soil functionality, and further enhancing water quality and its management for safe human and ecological use, while fostering the EU’s and Associated Countries’ position and role in the global water scene.”
Water management in urban areas is confronted with a wide range of water quality issues. Urban runoff, is an increasingly important source of pollution. This is going to be aggravated by an increasing frequency of extreme events, such as floods and droughts, due to the impacts of climate change, as well as the increasing sealing of surfaces and rapid growth of urban areas. Moreover, water leakages from ageing water-service infrastructure and combined sewer or storm water overflows, leads to additional pollution releases into the environment. Water quality deterioration due to trace organic pollutants such as pharmaceuticals and industrial chemicals, microbial contaminants, such as pathogens or antimicrobial resistance genes, micro-plastic, nanomaterial, and diffuse pollution from urban areas (roads, urban runoff) and from upstream agricultural areas or industries and many other pollutants often released unintentionally to the environment and finally leading to several forms of pollution of urban water sources. These issues are also exacerbated by the complex interactions between pollutions sources and pathways at the urban/catchment level interface.
In line with the ambition of the EU zero pollution action plan there is a need to develop an integrated and harmonised approach to monitor all sources of surface and groundwater pollution and their impact, including micro-pollutants, micro-plastics, pharmaceuticals and other contaminant of emerging concerns, as well as mixtures of pollutants.
This objective of this action is to develop and demonstrate a European wide ‘whole system monitoring approach’ to address emerging water pollution and water quality assurance in urban areas in various urban areas covering a wide number of water pollution challenges, , taking into consideration the interactions of pollution sources and pathways between urban areas and the surrounding river and where appropriate drainage basin, and improve the resilience of urban water systems towards pandemics and global and climate change challenges. New systemic concepts and holistic strategies to enhance urban water quality should be integrated and demonstrated in an operational environment, including decentralised systems, hybrid green-grey infrastructures or cascading use of water.
An advanced monitoring and control system, going beyond the conventional pollutants, linking drinking and wastewater urban cycles, integrating risk management approaches and exploiting upgraded digital solutions to support urban water quality management, should be developed and tested, combined with appropriate modelling tools and scenarios to assess and forecast the long-term impacts of future changing socio-economic and climatic conditions on water quality. This monitoring system should consider the overall monitoring and outlook requirements of the EU zero pollution action plan, the monitoring requirements of existing EU water policy legislation (e.g., Water Framework Directive, Drinking Water Directive , Urban Waste Water Treatment Directive, Bathing Water Directive, etc.) and relevant national and/or European water quality monitoring tools, and develop recommendations and guidance to strengthen the implementation of the EU and/or national legislation. It should allow to identify cause-effect relationships and big data management to address quality pressures For this purpose there is a need to develop better methods to access chemical data to be able to track the use or the flows of chemicals in urban areas (e.g., to support case studies using mass balance approach to clarify hotspots of pollution sources). New and refined analytical tools and monitoring methods (e.g. effect-based monitoring, biological monitoring) to analyse broad spectrum of contaminants of emerging concerns should be also developed. Recommendations for the standardisation of monitoring and identification of contaminants (including detection limit) should be also provided.
To enhance the capabilities of real-time monitoring of water quality, the potential of earth observations technologies and the use of digital technologies, such as online sensors, artificial intelligence, digital twins, digital data spaces, etc. should be further explored and consolidated.
In general, the participation of academia, research organisations, utilities, industry and regulators is strongly advised, as well as civil society engagement whenever necessary, also aiming to broaden the dissemination and exploitation routes and to better assess the innovation potential of developed solutions and strategies. The direct participation of urban and catchment/river basin managing water authorities and utilities is essential.
Where relevant, activities should create synergies with the projects funded under the protecting drinking water and managing urban water pollution topics in the work programme from WP2021-2022, namely HORIZON-CL6-2021-ZEROPOLLUTION-01-03 and HORIZON-CL6-2022- ZEROPOLLUTION-01-04.
Projects results are expected to contribute to all of the following expected outcomes:
- Enhance urban water quality with a view of providing better guidance for policy making and prioritisation by developing integrated urban water quality monitoring management plans;
- Sound, safer and risk-based urban water quality management plans supported by enhanced holistic monitoring, advanced novel methods and digital solutions, modelling and evidence-based scenarios;
- Increase uptake of digital tools in the water sector to support water management decisions for all stakeholders.
Regions / countries for funding
Moldova (Moldova), Albania (Shqipëria), Armenia (Հայաստան), Azerbaijan (Azərbaycan), Belarus (Беларусь), Bosnia and Herzegovina (Bosna i Hercegovina / Босна и Херцеговина), Faeroes (Føroyar / Færøerne), Georgia (საქართველო), Island (Ísland), Israel (ישראל / إِسْرَائِيل), Kosovo (Kosova/Kosovë / Косово), Montenegro (Црна Гора), Morocco (المغرب), New Zealand (Aotearoa), North Macedonia (Северна Македонија), Norway (Norge), Serbia (Srbija/Сpбија), Tunisia (تونس /Tūnis), Türkiye, Ukraine (Україна), United Kingdom
Education and training institution, International organization, Non-Profit Organisation (NPO) / Non-Governmental Organisation (NGO), Other, Private institution, incl. private company (private for profit), Public Body (national, regional and local; incl. EGTCs), Research Institution incl. University, Small and medium-sized enterprise (SME)
To be eligible for funding, applicants must be established in one of the following countries:
- the Member States of the European Union, including their outermost regions
- the Overseas Countries and Territories (OCTs) linked to the Member States
- third countries associated to Horizon Europe - see list of particpating countries
Only legal entities forming a consortium are eligible to participate in actions provided that the consortium includes, as beneficiaries, three legal entities independent from each other and each established in a different country as follows:
- at least one independent legal entity established in a Member State; and
- at least two other independent legal entities, each established in different Member States or Associated Countries.
Any legal entity, regardless of its place of establishment, including legal entities from non-associated third countries or international organisations (including international European research organisations) is eligible to participate (whether it is eligible for funding or not), provided that the conditions laid down in the Horizon Europe Regulation have been met, along with any other conditions laid down in the specific call topic.
A ‘legal entity’ means any natural or legal person created and recognised as such under national law, EU law or international law, which has legal personality and which may, acting in its own name, exercise rights and be subject to obligations, or an entity without legal personality.
- Affiliated entities — Affiliated entities (i.e. entities with a legal or capital link to a beneficiary which participate in the action with similar rights and obligations to the beneficiaries, but which do not sign the grant agreement and therefore do not become beneficiaries themselves) are allowed, if they are eligible for participation and funding.
- Associated partners — Associated partners (i.e. entities which participate in the action without signing the grant agreement, and without the right to charge costs or claim contributions) are allowed, subject to any conditions regarding associated partners set out in the specific call conditions.
- Entities without legal personality — Entities which do not have legal personality under their national law may exceptionally participate, provided that their representatives have the capacity to undertake legal obligations on their behalf, and offer guarantees to protect the EU’s financial interests equivalent to those offered by legal persons.
- EU bodies — Legal entities created under EU law including decentralised agencies may be part of the consortium, unless provided for otherwise in their basic act.
- Joint Research Centre (‘JRC’)— Where provided for in the specific call conditions, applicants may include in their proposals the possible contribution of the JRC but the JRC will not participate in the preparation and submission of the proposal. Applicants will indicate the contribution that the JRC could bring to the project based on the scope of the topic text. After the evaluation process, the JRC and the consortium selected for funding may come to an agreement on the specific terms of the participation of the JRC. If an agreement is found, the JRC may accede to the grant agreement as beneficiary requesting zero funding or participate as an associated partner, and would accede to the consortium as a member.
- Associations and interest groupings — Entities composed of members (e.g. European research infrastructure consortia (ERICs)) may participate as ‘sole beneficiaries’ or ‘beneficiaries without legal personality’. However, if the action is in practice implemented by the individual members, those members should also participate (either as beneficiaries or as affiliated entities, otherwise their costs will NOT be eligible.
Relevance for EU Macro-Region
EUSAIR - EU Strategy for the Adriatic and Ionian Region, EUSALP - EU Strategy for the Alpine Space, EUSBSR - EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region, EUSDR - EU Strategy for the Danube Region
UN Sustainable Development Goals (UN-SDGs)
All proposals must be submitted electronically via the Funders & Tenders Portal electronic submission system (accessible via the topic page in the Search Funding & Tenders section). Paper submissions are NOT possible.
Proposals must be complete and contain all parts and mandatory annexes and supporting documents, e.g. plan for the exploitation and dissemination of the results including communication activities, etc.
The application form will have two parts:
- Part A (to be filled in directly online) contains administrative information about the applicant organisations (future coordinator and beneficiaries and affiliated entities), the summarised budget for the proposal and call-specific questions;
- Part B (to be downloaded from the Portal submission system, completed and then assembled and re-uploaded as a PDF in the system) contains the technical description of the project.
Annexes and supporting documents will be directly available in the submission system and must be uploaded as PDF files (or other formats allowed by the system).
This call follows a two-stage approach.
This topic is part of the blind evaluation pilot under which first stage proposals will be evaluated blindly. Applicants submitting a proposal under the blind evaluation pilot (see General Annex F) must not disclose their organisation names, acronyms, logos, nor names of personnel in Part B of their first stage application (see General Annex E).
The limit for a first-stage application is 10 pages. The limit for a full application (Part B) is 45 pages.