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Hydraulics and Environment Department Hydraulics and Environment Department
Urban Water Unit
Urban Water Unit
Maria João Rosa
Maria João Rosa
Head of Unit / Principal Researcher


The Urban Water Unit (NES) is a research division of LNEC's Hydraulics and Environment Department undertaking leading-edge R&D&I (research, development and innovation) in the field of water supply, wastewater and stormwater services and systems. NES produces and promotes the transfer of knowledge, methods and technology to the water sector aiming at increasing the services’ effectiveness, efficiency and sustainability.

Created in 1975, NES has been developing in the last decades an intense collaboration with key national and international R&D centres and organizations, namely ERSAR – The Water and Waste Services Regulation Authority and IWA – The International Water Association. It has also a long record of an intense standardization activity, chairing the National Technical Commission on Urban Water Systems and many of its sub-commissions, and integrating many CEN and ISO working groups.

Research and innovation are mostly supported by European (e.g. FP7, H2020 and LIFE programmes) and national funds (e.g. from the national Foundation for Science and Technology) from competitive calls, as well as from National Initiatives, an in-house developed model of collaborative projects with researchers, IT providers and utilities. This model allows NES to work in close collaboration with the water utilities and therefore to catalyse effective innovation. Next to its problem-driven R&D&I core activity NES also provides advanced consultancy services in response to requests aimed at solving specific problems of the water industry.

Ensuring high quality services at affordable prices (now and for future generations), promoting the circular economy and the efficient use of resources, particularly water and energy, the systems’ adaptation ability and resiliency towards rapid and severe changes exacerbated by climate change and the control of emerging contaminants are examples of challenges requiring innovative solutions.

NES has an experienced, motivated and multidisciplinary team which pursues the anticipation of innovative solutions to these challenges, novel in the approach (necessarily holistic and integrative of the urban water cycle) and in the systems’ management and decision support tools, and which involves a broad spectrum of competences (laboratorial, monitoring, modelling, system’s analysis).

The transition to the urban water services of tomorrow and the innovation associated to this sustainable transition are the motto for NES "Water in the city” strategic research for 2020-2021, framed by four task forces:

  1. Water and energy
  2. Infrastructure asset management
  3. Water quality, treatment and reuse
  4. Reliability, safety and resilience of urban water systems.