Resilient Drinking Water Resources

Ritsche A. Kloosterman*, Jan Peter van der Hoek, Paulien Herder

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
21 Downloads (Pure)


A significant challenge for managers of drinking water infrastructures is to make effective strategic decisions for assets with a long lifetime in an uncertain and changing environment. Water resources, which are part of the drinking water infrastructures, have a special position in this decision making process as they operate at the interface of the socio-technical and the socio-ecological subsystems: water resources are the input for the technical system, consisting of pipes and pumps that interact with different actors; and water resources can be seen as output from the ecological system which is influenced by environmental and political issues like climate change, drought and competing and changing uses of water and space. This paper discusses how to design the water resources in such a way that they function in the desired way at present, but that the design also fits an uncertain future as good as possible. To this extent, a framework was developed based upon the notion of resilience. Existing general design principles for socio-technical systems from literature were used as building blocks in the development of our water resources design principles (WR-DP) framework. Three key characteristics of water resources were distinguished in this framework: water quantity, water quality and the environmental impact of the water resources. In addition, we distinguished two dimensions that allowed us to explicitly describe all possible design principles: system scale and class. The first dimension, system scale, ranges from one water resource to a network of water resources. The second dimension, class, makes a distinction between social aspects and technical aspects. Application of the WR-DP framework in a case of a drinking water company in the Netherlands showed the usability of the framework.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)337-351
Number of pages15
JournalWater Resources Management
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Drinking water infrastructures
  • Long term planning
  • Resilience
  • Socio-ecological system
  • Socio-technical system
  • Strategic decisions
  • Water resources


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