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Water is the condition for (a healthy) life, which is why access to clean tap water and sanitation has been included as one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in the Agenda 2030, the international agreement for global development. In a global comparison, Germany is very well positioned, but we increasingly have to deal with issues such as water pollution and - due to the increasing impacts of climate change - water scarcity too. In reference to sanitation in Germany, the main question we have to ask ourselves is how we can use our tap water as economically as possible. Because of its outstanding quality in Germany it should end up in the Germans' stomachs rather than in their toilets.

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Since June 2023, Anne Fetscher has been working as a communications manager for a tip: tap, a non-profit association from Berlin that campaigns for more than ten years for tap water. She is part of the “NRWasserwende”, a project to create a state-wide network of so called “water districts”.

Since March 2022, Jörg Felmeden has been leading the Department of Settlement Water Management. Against the background of Integrated Water Resource Management (IWRM) his focus of work lies in the development of strategies, concepts and measures for the adaption and transformation of water infrastructures, with emphasis on demography and climate change.

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The non-profit association a tip: tap from Berlin has been working for more than ten years to ensure that people in Germany turn on the tap instead of reaching for a plastic or glass bottle when they are thirsty. By switching from bottled to tap water, one can save a lot of plastic and CO2 and thus make a decisive contribution to climate protection. In order to increase awareness of the issue of tap water among the population, a tip: tap encourages the establishment of so-called “Wasser-Quartiere” (water districts) - local networks of water suppliers and other committed partners. A tip: tap supports them in the field of education, consulting ,construction of drinking fountains, and communication on the topic of tap water. Since January 2023, the establishment of water districts in North Rhine-Westphalia has continued to be targeted as part of the “NRWasserwende'' project funded by the foundation ‘Stiftung Umwelt und Entwicklung’. In September 2023, the fifth water district, Detmold was launched. In addition to the city and the municipal utilities, the Technische Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe (TH OWL) is particularly committed to the issue of tap water. With Dr.-Ing. Jörg Felmeden, professor in the civil engineering department for the area of urban water engineering at the TH OWL, we talked about tap water and sustainable development.

How are you committed to fulfilling SDG6 as part of your teaching and what motivates you?

In the various courses on urban water management, the SDGs as well as the effects of demographic and climate change on water management are discussed. We question today's centralized system and discuss resource-oriented water infrastructure systems. Through my work as a professor, I can combine teaching, research and practice and implement practical solutions and make changes on site.

To what extent can the Technische Hochschule Ostwestfalen-Lippe set the course for sustainable development in this area?

Today's students are tomorrow's planners! We train the new engineers who can link water and sustainable development and implement the sustainable transformation of water infrastructure systems in practice. As an institute of technology, we want to be recognized as “Leitungswasserfreundlich” (“tap water friendly”) and also want to use water more sustainably on campus in the future. The topic of water should also be given greater importance in future sustainability reports.

What can be done concretely in the water district of Detmold to ensure access to (clean drinking water and) sustainable sanitation?

In the Detmold water district, the topics of tap water and “drinking tap water” are addressed and, above all, the citizens of the district are informed about the aspects of local drinking water quality and its sustainability compared to bottled water. Public drinking water dispensers will also be installed. In order to save drinking water, water-saving sanitation systems (vacuum toilets, dry toilets, etc.) are discussed and the current consumption of drinking water, for example for flushing toilets, will be debated too.

What is the added value of the NRWasserwende network in this context?

The city of Detmold and the municipal water supplier are supported by the project and the network in the implementation of concrete measures on site and can learn from other cities and districts. We as a university can bring new impulses to the discussion with urban actors and communicate better in urban society about the topic of water.

What are your visions for the future - both in general and for the Detmold water district?

A future in which water has the importance in everyday life that it should have as number one food, so that the resource is sustainably protected and used efficiently and clean water is a matter of course for everyone. For the Detmold water district, I would like to see a lively and visibly sustainable approach to water, so that water is visible again in everyday life and the actions in the district have a positive impact on the entire city and its citizens. And of course, that we can welcome many new students in the field of water engineering and accompany them on their path...


The conversation makes it clear: educating the public is an important key to increase the awareness of the outstanding quality of tap water and the need for its sustainable use. Everyone can contribute to sustainability and climate protection with little effort and thus ensure that SDG 6 is (continued to be) fulfilled in Germany. Communication on the topic of tap water is already being significantly promoted by the water districts and the entire NRWasserwende network. Dr-Ing. Felmeden emphasizes that with the expertise of the Department of Civil Engineering in the field of urban water engineering at the TH OWL, new important impulses - such as the use of low-water sanitation systems and the development of resource-oriented water infrastructure systems - can be set and considered in the future.

Stand up for tap water and become a water district! The project manager of the NRWasserwende Alexandra Jaik ( is pleased to receive inquiries from interested municipalities and water suppliers ! You can find the website with more information here

The interview was led by Anne Fetscher, communication manager for the “NRWasserwende”.




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