Governance in urban waste water systems

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On 22 December 2017 Petra van Daal-Rombouts, who works for Witteveen+Bos, completed her PhD at Delft University of Technology within the Urban Drainage knowledge programme. The title of her thesis is ‘Performance evaluation of real time control in urban wastewater systems’. Stowa and RIONED have published a Dutch summary of the thesis.

Petra van Daal has developed a method for assessing the effectiveness of governance in urban waste water systems. ‘During my research I was employed by Witteveen+Bos, but I was able to spend almost all of my time on my PhD study. This was a real luxury. The main innovative elements in the evaluation method I have developed are the explicit inclusion of uncertainties and the application of a suitable evaluation period. One of the propositions I defended was that it is feasible in practice, both technically and organisationally, to conclusively determine the effect of real-time control in waste water systems. As far as I know I am the first person to have proven this.

The research was carried out in close collaboration with De Dommel Water Authority, where the method was applied in practice to two control schemes in Eindhoven’s waste water system. By levelling off the supply of waste water to the treatment plant in times of transition from dry to rainy weather, the burden on the treatment process can be reduced. In this way the overflow volume at the Eindhoven sewage treatment plant could be lowered by 33 percent and the ammonium peaks in the effluent during heavy rainfall by 20 percent. ‘Thanks to the strong link between theory and practice, the results of the study can be used as a basis for optimisations in other systems,’ says Petra van Daal.

You can download her thesis via The Dutch summary can be ordered or downloaded via the Stowa website: