Creating solutions in collaboration Annual report 2013


The Water Telephone is always reachable

1 June 2013Networks

The Water Telephone is reachable 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Water companies can call for advice or further research.

Sometimes water companies have a question they need answered quickly. For instance when unknown substances are detected in surface water, or when a burst pipe creates a risk of microbial contamination.

“You don’t want to take any risks, it’s a matter of people’s health”

Microbial contamination

In 2013 KWR receives two calls from water companies. The first concerns a microbial contamination following work on a distribution network. The company itself does its tests, but asks KWR for a second opinion and advice on follow-up steps. “They detected the presence of an unknown type of bacteria,” says researcher Patrick Smeets. “A contamination had occurred, so our advice was: flush and if necessary disinfect with chlorine. The company had already taken these measures. Customers were advised, for a period, to boil their water before consuming it.”


The second call concerned benzene in groundwater. Soil contamination caused by fuels occurs quite frequently. “In small quantities it does no harm,” says researcher Leo Puijker. “There are standards for the maximum permitted amount of benzene in water. But if you’re in doubt about having exceeded the standard, you want of course to be sure that you’re not running any risk.” When in doubt, or in the event of an actual exceedence, the Human Environment and Transport Inspectorate (ILT) is also always brought in to conduct a critical check. “We made our recommendations and in this case, too, the question was solved without problem.”

Always standing by

Two calls in a year, and always on stand-by? “That’s right,” says Puijker emphatically. “We conduct emergency exercises with the water companies and other entities involved. We also run tests on the reachability of the Water Telephone. RIVM, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment, calls us randomly a couple of times a year. If something happens, we have to be there.”

© 2017 KWR Watercycle Research Institute

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