LIFE Project Cover Photo

Demonstration of smart actuators to reduce water losses and energy consumption in water supply infrastructures in Europe

Reference: LIFE16 ENV/DE/000550 | Acronym: LIFE SmartWater



Total global water demand is expected to rise by 35?60% between 2000 and 2025, and could then double by 2050. Water scarcity already affects at least 11% of the European population and 17% of EU territory. Adding to this problem, some 30% of the water volume pumped into the distribution system is lost via leaks or ruptures. In some Mediterranean countries, more than 80% is lost, even in regions particularly exposed to droughts. In the past 30 years, drought events in Europe have cost more than ?100 billion. If leaks could be halved worldwide, this alone would represent drinking water for an additional 90 million people. Although several smart water management solutions have been developed, water distribution networks are still mainly based on inefficient technologies with localised leaks handled reactively. Water utilities are gradually recognising the need for a ?smart? pipeline approach, similar to ?smart power grids?. Yet, they fear the installation of smart water management components may incur considerable costs in terms of civil engineering to provide the necessary infrastructure and cabling.


LIFE SmartWater will demonstrate a system for advance leak control, based on the use of innovative valve actuators. This will be installed in the water distribution network of Gouda in the Netherlands. The project aims to reduce water loss by 50% in the pilot District Metering Area, with related energy savings. The project will validate the use of wireless-controlled valve actuators for easy and cost-effective retrofitting of buried valves, which will require no alterations to the existing infrastructure. With the addition of a sensor interface, the actuators will facilitate the upgrade of valves so they become ?smart valves? for implementing smart water management solutions.

The specific objectives are to:

  • Equip the valve actuators with an interface for external sensory data analysis and validate the technical feasibility for remote wireless sensor data processing;
  • Prove easy and cost-effective retrofitting of buried valves for smart upgrade of water infrastructure;
  • Demonstrate wireless remote network monitoring, control and action in the water distribution network of pilot customer, Oasen;
  • Deploy 20 smart valve-sensor-actuator entities to test leak control algorithms;
  • Reduce production costs by 30% to achieve short payback times for the valve actuators; and
  • Replicate the technology in Hungary, France and the UK during the project, and to prepare for its replication in several other countries following a clear replication and transferability plan.
  • The project contributes to relevant European policies such as the Water Framework Directive, in terms of water scarcity issues, and the Drinking Water Directive, with regards to efficient monitoring, assessment and enforcement of drinking water quality. It also contributes to the Roadmap for a Resource Efficient Europe, as it will help reduce losses of water in the supply network.

    Expected results:

  • A marketable version of the valve actuator, with connections for external sensors and two communication protocols, able to operate as a wireless controlled valve-sensor-actuator entity with a battery life of at least one year;
  • Within the project duration, the demonstration of the actuators will allow savings of approximately 637 200 m³ of drinking water, 319 MWh of embedded power used for water production and supply, and about 191 tonnes of CO2 emissions;
  • To successfully manage and optimise a cost-effective transition from current production (150 pieces/year) to series production (4 000 pieces/year) to secure substantial business growth in the years 2020-2024;
  • A commercialisation strategy, including a replicability and transferability plan;
  • Dissemination of results and success stories that show the saving potential for water and energy, and operational efficiency increases for maintenance and repair activities; and
  • A life-cycle assessment showing the environmental benefits of the actuator.


    Reference: LIFE16 ENV/DE/000550
    Acronym: LIFE SmartWater
    Start Date: 01/07/2017
    End Date: 30/06/2021
    Total Budget: 923,515 €
    EU Contribution: 550,509 €
    Project Location:
    Project Website:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: 3S Antriebe GmbH
    Legal Status: PCO
    Address: Ullsteinstrasse 108, 12109, Berlin,
    Contact Person: Axel Sacharowitz
    Tel: 4930700776411

    LIFE Project Map



    • Water management and supply
    • Water scarcity and drought


    • monitoring
    • water supply
    • water resources management


    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
    • COM(2012)673 -"A Blueprint to Safeguard Europe's Water Resources"


    Name Type
    3S Antriebe GmbH Coordinator
    None Participant