Creating solutions in collaboration Annual report 2013

Start of Ovezande pilot 

The Freshmaker: from the drawing board to practice

15 June 2013Research


The Freshmaker is put into operation at fruit-grower’s Rijk-Boonman in Ovezande, in the Province of Zeeland. The installation replaces saline groundwater with fresh water, so that horticulturalists have sufficient fresh water available even in long dry periods. The installation is part of a pilot involving KWR, Meeuwse Handelsonderneming and ZLTO, which is in part financed by the Knowledge for Climate research programme. The initial results are made known in the autumn of 2013. “The Freshmaker saved my pear crop,” says grower Jan Rijk.

In the South-West Delta the availability of fresh water cannot, today and in the future, be taken for granted. At the same time water is fundamental to the development and growth of the local fruit sector. Many horticulturalists have stored water in a basin to have sufficient volumes of fresh water available for sprinkling against night frost. “But a single basin does not have enough capacity to deal with a dry summer,” says Rijk. “Building more basins is expensive and occupies space that I can’t use for cultivation.”

New technology: the Freshmaker

A solution is offered by the Freshmaker, a technique in which an area’s own winter and spring fresh water surplus can be stored in the underground, for use in the summer in the event of imminent drought or salinisation. The Freshmaker, using a 70-meter long Horizontal Directional Drilled Well (HDDW), infiltrates fresh surface water into shallow rain-water lenses which float on saline groundwater. By extracting saline water from the underside of these lenses using a deep HDDW and discharging it to the sea, a thick fresh lens is created over the length of the wells. The horticulturalist can, at any time, extract fresh water from this lens.

“I only have to open a few valves to have enough water all summer long”

An excellent summer

The pilot is scheduled to last five years, but the horticulturalists and researchers are happily surprised with the results of the first summer. In the spring, 1,700 m3 of fresh water was injected, and the same amount was extracted from the ground in the summer, and no saline water came to the surface. Rijk has enough water available throughout the summer as well as a new supplies for his needs in the spring and summer of 2014. And it costs him so little effort: “It all happens underground. I only have to open a few valves to put the system into operation.”

Aquifer water storage is also a subject of interest to Europe

Researchers are now also working on a European research proposal – in the framework of Horizon 2020 – in which the Freshmaker plays a part. Moreover, in 2014 it is announced that KWR is participating in the Action Group entitled “Mitigation of Water Stress in Coastal Zones by Sustainable Water Management”, through which the European Commission wants to market, among others, the research into aquifer water storage.

© 2018 KWR Watercycle Research Institute

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