Sino-German water suply network (SIGN)

Clean water from the source to the tap

Algae bloom at Tai Lake (November 2015)

“Clean water from the source to the tap” - The SIGN project investigates the entire water cycle in Lake Taihu, China’s third-largest fresh water lake.

An adequate supply of clean drinking water and good raw water quality are critical requirements for sustainable social development. China is characterised by rapid industrial and economic growth. The requirement of process and drinking water is continually rising in urban centres. At the same time, raw water quality is adversely affected by the excessive input of nutrients and inorganic and organic pollutants. Lake Taihu is a dramatic example of water pollution with nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus), organic pollutants and heavy metals. In the last decades, repeated water supply problems have been reported due to the poor water quality.

In the SIGN research and development project, technologies and concepts that have been proven in Germany were further developed for the boundary conditions in China. The Chinese and German partners have benefited from the close link between science and industry in the two countries. The collaboration of German partners from industry and research ensures the improvement of knowledge, whilst also ensuring the marketable application of the newly developed technological solutions. The diverse innovative research and development tasks in the SIGN project were divided into the following areas of work:

- Urban catchment: Future-proof strategies for managing urban waste water and rainwater

- Monitoring and early warning systems: Innovative and automated methods for sustainable process understanding

- Chemical and microbiological analytics in Lake Taihu: Quality of the raw water resource

- Drinking water treatment: Increase of the treatment efficiency

- Drinking water distribution: Improvement in the water quality and quantity

- Further development and capacity expansion: Knowledge exchange between regional operators

- Market launch: Novel technologies and consultation expertise provided by German companies for China

- Recommended actions: Concepts for water treatment and resource management


Schmidt K.R., aus der Beek T., Dai X., Dong B., Dopp E., Eichinger F., Hammers-Wirtz M., Haußmann R., Holbach A., Hollert H., Illgen M., Jiang X., Koehler J., Koester S., Korth A., Kueppers S., Li A., Lohmann M., Moldaenke C., Norra S., Qin B., Qin Y., Reese M., Riehle E., Santiago-Schuebel B., Schaefer C., Simon A., Song Y., Staaks C., Steinhardt J., Subklew G., Tao T., Wu T., Yin D., Zhao F., Zheng B., Zhou M., Zou H., Zuo J.,Tiehm A.: Since 2015 the SinoGerman research project SIGN supports water quality improvement in the Taihu region, China. Environmental Sciences Europe 28(1): 1-6 (2016) DOI 10.1186/s12302-016-0092-7

Schäfer C., Stange C., Tiehm A.: Internationale Kooperationen: Das Deutsch-Chinesische Trinkwasser-Netzwerk (Sino German Water Supply Network, SIGN). In: Entwicklungstrends für die Wasserversorgung, 22. TZW-Kolloquium, Veröffentlichungen aus dem Technologiezentrum Wasser, ISSN 1434-5765, TZW-Band 80: 159-177 (2017)

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