International Water Research Alliance Saxony - IWAS

The International Water Research Alliance Saxony - IWAS aims to contribute to an Integrated Water Resources Management in hydrologically sensitive regions by developing specific system solutions as a response to some of the most pressing water-related problems of our time. IWAS is a project of the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research - UFZ, the Dresden Technical University and the Stadtentwässerung Dresden (member of German Water Partnership - GWP). The project is funded by the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).

IWAS regions: Objectives and approaches

The IWAS project aims at developing specific solutions to an Integrated Water Resources Management in five hydrologically sensitive regions worldwide (see map) that are facing diverse challenges in the water sector.      
Eastern Europe: Focus in this region lies on the improvement of surface water quality within the western part of the river Bug which borders the Ukraine and Poland. While showing a good morphological quality, the river is strongly polluted with inputs from agriculture, industry, urban areas and mining activities. In view of the EU Water Framework Directive, which is being implemented in the neighbouring countries, IWAS develops and implements methods based on natural as well as social sciences, and technologies for the improvement of surface water quality. Besides the identification of sources and pathways and the analysis of involved institutions, modern technologies are further developed and implemented, such as the combination of emission reduction and in-stream measures or the re-use of sewage sludge in agriculture.

Central Asia: Extreme climatic conditions, increasing population, industrial, agricultural, and demographic changes – how do these global trends affect a region which to date shows near natural ecological conditions? Within the Kharaa catchment in Northern Mongolia, IWAS develops scientific innovations such as model coupling of socio-economic and natural systems under the influence of global trends. Interrelations of processes between hydrology and ecology are analysed, governance and decision systems are evaluated and innovative technologies for the treatment and reuse of waste water fractions in semi-arid regions are further developed.

Latin America: Future scenarios based on climate prognoses show that Brazil’s capital Brasília will face serious problems regarding the availability of drinking and irrigation water. While today the city is supplied by water from surface water reservoirs, the water quality is threatened by intensive land-use and the discharge of partially treated waste water. Together with partners from the Brazilian project AguaDF and in close cooperation with local decision-makers, IWAS aims at developing an IWRM concept for a sustainable water supply of Brasília.

South East Asia: The growing megacity Hanoi, Vietnam, faces serious water problems due to population growth and economic development of the region. As drainage systems are insufficient, problems of flooding and water pollution occur frequently in many parts of Hanoi. Adequate waste water treatment, sludge re-use and artificial groundwater recharge together with technology development and the training of scientists and practitioners are steps towards an improved, sustainable drainage system.

Middle East: In face of the economic and demographic growth on the Arabian Peninsula, the question arises of a sustainable use of water resources in arid and hyper-arid regions. How can barely measurable groundwater recharge rates be determined for vast dry areas? Can efficient management concepts be developed that diminish the risk of saltwater intrusion due to groundwater exploitation for agricultural irrigation? The water resources of this region are investigated following a holistic approach including the highly precise quantification of groundwater recharge, storage and utilization of ephemeral streams, and the optimization of agricultural water consumption.

5 regions, 5 main topics – in IWAS they form a common project: the exchange between the sub-projects is realized on various levels. Additionally, the two cross-cutting themes for implementation and scenario analysis serve the integration of results and competences.

Integration and implementation: IWAS cross-cutting themes

In order to improve an integrated system understanding, all regional projects contribute to the development of the IWAS-ToolBox, a modelling platform enabling an integrated system analysis and the development of future scenarios to support decision-making. The intention is to develop efficient, user-friendly tools for the coupling of different models. Long-term goal is the provision of all sensible possibilities of coupling their models (e.g. for coupling different compartments) to all users of the different IWAS sub-projects.

The implementation of concepts and technologies developed in the sub-projects plays a major role within the IWAS project, which is advanced through the close cooperation with the industry. The successful, sustainable implementation is made possible through the development of adequate concepts for knowledge transfer and Capacity Development (CD).

For the purpose of a sustainable CD, the needs within each region are investigated and adapted concepts for the development and choice of measures are being applied in order to further the competences within the respective regions. Those measures can be quite different in nature and comprise the training of practitioners, the support of scientific education, the exchange and transfer of knowledge, or the exchange of scientific staff, among others. Already in its first phase, IWAS supports relevant study courses in the target regions (e.g., the master course “Waste Management and Contaminated Sites Treatment” at the Hanoi University of Science, Vietnam) and supports knowledge transfer by exchange of PhD students and scientists as well as by e-learning programmes (under development in the sub-project Middle East).


IWAS places great demands: it tries the balancing act of performing process studies as well as implementing results from natural and social sciences and developing new technologies. Furthermore, this balancing act is ventured in five regions of the world with different preconditions and requirements. To meet this challenge, the IWAS concept designated partners from the industry right from the start as being part of the project consortium. This provides the opportunity for the companies to explore attractive water markets in the study regions. Additionally, specialists have been engaged to develop strategic concepts for a successful implementation of results (Capacity Development), which on the one hand are generally applicable, but on the other hand are specifically adjusted to the needs of the respective region. This results in a portfolio of measures that follow a common methodology and are developed from the beginning of the project on together with the regional sub-projects. The same applies to the IWAS-ToolBox. Simultaneously with the parameterization and further development of models in the different regions, necessary interfaces for model coupling are developed and adjusted to regional conditions.
The concept of cross-cutting themes that are worked on right from the start of the project in all target regions is a good example for a sustainably planned IWRM project.

IWAS considers the investigated regions and the developed solutions in many aspects exemplary for the respective region and focus topic. The Ukraine may serve as model region for other regions in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, which may utilize the specific solutions for improved water quality developed in IWAS in view of integration into the EU. Mongolia is characteristic for many countries of Central Asia exposed to continental climate and additionally influenced by transformation processes after the fall of the Soviet Union. Middle East: the investigated problems are an example for arid areas and are in certain aspects adaptable to other regions. The topics treated in Brazil and Vietnam are typical for fast growing metropolitan areas with increasing problems of water scarcity and allocation as well as water pollution.

Several IWAS regions are considered in the development of certain technologies to test their transferability already during the course of the project. For instance, Biochar-technologies for the re-use of sludge to improve agricultural production, which were developed for semi-arid areas, are tested within the sub-project Eastern Europe to adapt their applicability to temperate climates.

To fully consider the complexity and long-term development of water-related problems with investigations in adequate time scales, IWAS endeavours to gain further funding and strives to become a permanent institution.



  • Helmholtz-Zentrum für Umweltforschung GmbH - UFZ

    • Prof. Dietrich Borchardt (Projektleitung UFZ)<br>Elisabeth Krüger (Projektkoordination)<br>Dr. Edda Kalbus (Projektkoordination)
    • Permoserstraße 15
    • 04318 Leipzig
    • Telephone: +49 341 235 1671
    • Email Address:;;
    • Homepage:
  • Technische Universität Dresden, Institut für Siedlungs- und Industriewasserwirtschaft

    • Prof. Peter Krebs (Projektleitung TU Dresden)<br>Jörg Seegert (Projektkoordination)
    • 01069 Dresden
    • Telephone: +49 351 463 34616
    • Email Address:;
    • Homepage:
  • Stadtentwässerung Dresden GmbH

    • Gunda Röstel
    • Scharfenberger Straße 152
    • 01139 Dresden
    • Telephone: +49 351 822 2270
    • Email Address:
    • Homepage: