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Circular Water Management 2: Closing the H20 loop

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Following the framework described in the chapter CIRCULAR WATER MANAGEMENT: A FRAMEWORK FOR THE TRANSITION, this chapter presents the intersection between the third principle of circular economy adapted to the water sector, the regeneration of natural basin systems, at the macro level, involving integrated urbanwater management as an essential component towards developing a water ecosystem. Climate change impacts urban areas with greater frequency and exposes cities on floodplains to extreme cloudbursts events, and rising sea levels is also a threat for coastal cities. A holistic approach for regenerating natural basin systems to provide a reliable water supply and considering multistakeholder governance participation will engage all the actors across the water value chain to create a collaborative ecosystem. The chapter presents the OECD principles for water governance grouped into three concepts: effectiveness, efficiency, trust, and engagement. 

Appropriate integrated urban water management needs to build resilience against the risk of floods in cities and preserve freshwater and groundwater resources. Urban planning needs to consider investing in water utilities and promote hybrid grey and green infrastructures to reduce water loss andoperating costs. The systemic approach will allow developing a collaborative environment from water utility management to the consumer and vice versa, fostering citizen inclusion and influencing citizen behaviour. 

In this sense, identifying enablers in the water sector play an essential role in the transition to the circular economy. Digital technologies will allow the smart management of water utilities. Novel technologies have an enormous potential for applications in the water value chain, such as sensors, monitoring and forecasting, data processing (ML, AI), augmented, virtual and digital twin reality and blockchain. Novel technologies will enable the remote monitoring of multiple treatment parameters in water utilities. Process optimization and predictive maintenance through sensors and connected equipment will optimize processes to reduce operational costs and time reaction to prevent failures in the system. Consumer monitoring consumption through the web, mobile and home connected devices aim to improve customer engagement through an enhanced digital user experience. 

Finally, circular business models implementation will create an ecosystem where water streams become a source of nutrients, minerals, metals for industries. The diversification of water sources allows fit for use water quality, and energy production offers an alternative source to the power distribution grid. The mapping of the strategies defined in the circular water framework into different circular design strategies from the literature, such as the resource cycles approach, allowed to propose a business model tool based on the traditional business canvas and the value creation, value proposition, value delivery and value capture approach. 

Thus, the chapter aims to guide the readers through an overview of the water sector from a macro perspective, contributing to a water framework and showing the different approaches and tools for a successful transition to the circular economy in the water sector. 

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