A transnational strategy extending the role of roads to support rural water systems (Rural Roadwater Rescue)

The Rural Roadwater Rescue will develop a guidance for regulatory frameworks, practicable solutions, community involvement and an action plan for implementation.


Roads and highways are crossing the north-west-european (NEW) territory abundantly. They usually drain the runoff water from rainfall events swiftly to canals/rivers, whereas local stakeholders would urgently need this surplus water. Rural Roadwater Rescue will demonstrate an actionable strategy how to save, treat (clean) and locally distribute water through transformation of existing roads/highways.

Climate change causes an imbalance between water supply by rivers and rainfall and the urgent demand from various users. In short periods, extreme weather events provide water surplus, whereas increasingly longer dry periods face water shortages and existing systems of storage are not sufficient.

The strategy will comprise an integrated, multi-stakeholders and cross-sectoral methodology. For better comprehensibility, it will be inspired by two use cases (BE: Heverlee, NL: Oirschot/Kloosters).

The project demonstrates how roads/highways can transform from mono- to multifunctional: How they can be technically turned into temporary water reservoirs for runoff water (next to/under the road), while being compliant with the legal regulations for infrastructure and water quality in the respective regions. In a next step, it will be demonstrated how distribution of water will be arranged in cooperation with local stakeholders (farmers, households, public services/facilities, industry etc.), integrated in the local spatial planning procedures, pending on the different local need profiles of the target groups in the various territories that they cross.

The “Rural_Roadwater_Rescue”-strategy will develop a guidance covering regulatory frameworks, practicable solutions, community involvement and an action plan for implementation.

The project will build a long-term, transnational, cross-sectoral, multidisciplinary cooperative network. Rural Roadwater Rescue is envisaged as launching pad for a larger roll-out of heavy investments, replicable transformation initiatives and implementation pilots in the future.

TZW contributes to Rural Roadwater Rescue by bringing in institutions from the German side for the different workshops’ discussions: authorities, agencies, ministries as well as SMEs in the water sector.

More concretely, TZW will be active in most activities as follows:

  • Information collection from the German associated partners REK, Autobahn and MUST.
  • Collection of legal conditions for certain water uses in Germany. Expertise on German and EU-legislation for drinking water and water reuse is given at TZW.
  • Knowhow on water quality and water treatment is available at TZW, as well as the awareness for the legal background.
  • Discussions with German associated partners concerning selection of pilots in Germany for future replication.