DIGIWATER (2021-2023) Digitalisation of water industry by innovative graduate water education

Water professionals often lack information technology skill sets and the perspective to appreciate the opportunities of digitalisation, while technology entrepreneurs rarely grasp the nuances of complex water systems, which is making the water professionals conservative, cautious and/or late adopters.

As global change brings local upheaval to crumbling water infrastructure, water professionals must update their analytic strategies used for planning investments, with constant, real-time observations of water quantity and quality data. The water sector can learn vital lessons from how the digital technologies disrupt other industries by “leapfrogging” and thus it holds enormous potential to solve water challenges and achieve the SDG6.

The aim of project aims is

(1) to develop new, innovative and multidisciplinary approaches to teaching and learning by using multidisciplinary curricula integrated with digital learning tools and virtual facilities with access in cloud systems and Problem Based Learning;

(2) to stimulate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial skills of higher education teaching staff and company staff using Innovation Camps and

(3) to facilitate the exchange, flow and co-creation of knowledge by creating inter-stakeholder courses integrating academic, corporate learning and professional development for external specialists.

Project Partners:

1. Norges Miljo-og Biovitenskaplige Universitet – Norway

2. Katholieke Universiteit Leuven - Belgium

3. Sumaqua - Belgium

4. I.a.co Environmental and Water Consultants Ltd. - South Cyprus

5. University of Cyprus – South Cyprus

6. Europaishe Vereinigung Fur Wasserwirtschaft Ev - Germany

7. Stadtentwaesserungsbetrieb Paderborn - Germany

8. Technische Hochschule Ostwestfalen-lippe - Germany

9. Doscon - Norway

10. Smartech Automation Srl - Romania

11. Universitatea Dunarea De Jos Din Galati - Romania

12. İstanbul Technical University- Turkey

13. Memsis Environmental Technology Research and Development Co. Ltd. - Turkey

The ambitions of the project is to foster digital innovation in the water sector by showcasing in water and parallel sectors (e.g. energy), building IT skill sets to water professionals, mainstreaming technology entrepreneurs into water sector, connecting the water sector with related industries and resource issues, and shift future water leaders from late to early adopters of new innovations and ideas.

Website of the project: https://waterharmony.net/projects/digiwater-2/


Collaboration between ITU and Umeå University for Monitoring Ergene River (2021- 2024)

ITU and Umeå University (Sweden) collaborated for monitoring Ergene River. The vehicles produced will also be used in the seas and oceans

As Istanbul Technical University celebrates its 250th anniversary, it continues to carry out important projects and partnerships at home and abroad. ITU collaborated with Umeå University (Sweden) for the TÜBİTAK-supported Ergene River Project, which started in 2021 and will be completed in March 2024.

With the project, it will be possible to rapidly identify chemicals and their emission sources in watersheds, to find pollution sources with advanced artificial intelligence models for sustainability, to warn authorities and prevent discharge rapidly.

The vehicles to be produced during the project will be released to European rivers and provide the opportunity to control micropollutants reaching the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, as well as the North Sea, Baltic Sea, Mediterranean, Black Sea and Caspian Seas.



SWAIN: Sustainable Watershed Management Through IoT-Driven Artificial Intelligence (EU supported project) (2021-2024)

Water resource contamination substantially threatens the environment. Rapid identification of chemicals and their emission sources in watersheds are crucial for the sustainable management of water resources. Despite studies on the measurement of micropollutants in the water resources around Europe, efficient utilization of the data in decision making for the protection of water resources from detrimental chemical pollution is currently not available. Novel IoT technologies coupled with advanced AI strategies may provide faster and more efficient responses to these challenges in real-time reactions as well as long-term planning. The proposed solution aims at providing: better understanding and near real-time response to pollution incidents; better prediction of pollution spread and improved response for mitigation of effects in the long run; data-driven AI life-long learning and evolution of the algorithm. The primary outcome would be an integrated decision support system utilizing micropollutant measurements along with real-time collected hydrodynamic and meteorological data of a watershed for sustainable water quality management. Since micropollutants have a relation to emission sources and many of them are resistant to degradation, they are good indicators of pollution and fingerprints of the pollution sources.

The main approach of the project is based on the introduction and combination of novel technologies in improving water pollution management in several critical phases. First of all, we rely on an advanced scalable IoT technology that adapts to the specific needs of the considered problem through a novel mechanism called viscoelasticity. Therefore, we obtain desirable data from the locations and at the time that is optimized for further data analysis. Then, we introduce a novel methodology for creating a more accurate hybrid model integrating the expert-based physical environment model and data-driven, evidence-based techniques. To that end, we introduce a novel graph-based functional representation of data that captures affinities and dependencies among data streams in a more efficient way.





Overcoming Barriers to Widespread Use of Membrane Technologies: Smart Water Management in Future Cities (2020-2023)

The project, was supported by TÜBİTAK International Multi-Cooperation Project, is aimed to make  membrane technology much more feasible by developing efficient decision tools for membranes’ operators and developing innovative materials/process to make membranes processes more reliable regarding emerging contaminants.


Adaptation Project to Climate Change in Water Resources Project (2022)

The project aims to reveal the feasibility analysis of "rainwater harvesting", "use of gray water" and "water pricing" activities in detail. This project is supported by the republic of Turkey ministry of agriculture and forestry general directorate of water management.

Expected Benefits of the Project:

  • Expanding the use of rainwater harvesting and gray water reuse system as alternative water sources to reduce the negative effects of climate change,
  • Saving water resources by revealing the scenarios that can be applied to reduce the current water consumption,
  • Taking steps regarding legal regulations by carrying out current legislation studies, making structural and non-structural measures, suggestions and evaluations,
  • By informing municipalities and local administrations through training activities, facilitating the implementation of these activities,
  • Reducing the volumetric load of stormwater on wastewater treatment plants in metropolitan cities, especially in cities with combined sewerage systems.




Investigation of Innovative Hybrid Membrane Bioreactor (If-Mbr) Treatment Technology for Pollution Load Reduction in Wastewaters Project

In recent years, due to the increase in the amount of water to be treated, research on new treatment processes that have less space and are very efficient in terms of economics and effluent quality has intensified. Membrane technologies are at the forefront of these technologies. Membrane Bioreactor (MBR) systems, which can be used instead of conventional treatment systems in domestic wastewater treatment plants, have created a widespread field of study because they are both economical and easy to operate. Membrane bioreactor systems (MBR) are combined treatment systems that are widely used in the treatment of domestic and industrial wastewater, biological decomposition with an activated sludge system, and solid-liquid separation with membrane filtration. The MBR process is mainly based on the physical separation of treated water and activated sludge with a membrane. Due to the high separation efficiencies, it provides, it is a process that consists of incorporating a membrane module that provides physical separation into the process, either submerged or externally, instead of the secondary settling tank in conventional domestic wastewater treatment plants. According to research conducted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest, the wastewater discharge originating from the Marmara Basin is around 5 million m3. With rapid population growth and industrialization, it is predicted that this waste discharge will increase further in the coming years. Due to location problems in Istanbul, waste is discharged into the Marmara Sea only after pre-treatment. In addition, industries such as textiles, where waste production is high, constitute a point source of pollution in the Marmara Sea. The IFAS treatment process combines traditional activated sludge and biofilm technologies in a single reactor. It offers a performance increase of approximately 40% without the need to add new aeration tanks to existing systems. IFAS adds a high surface area to the activated sludge pool. This media/surface area provides additional biomass and increases the growth rate of microorganisms. This increases the sludge age and ensures high performance of the treatment efficiency (AQWISE, 2010). Within the scope of the project, it is planned to increase the efficiency of the membrane system by combining the MBR system and the IFAS system into a single system. In this direction, by using the film fixation feature offered by IFAS, filtration with low AKM in the membrane tank will increase the fluxes. In addition, due to the high adhesion of microorganisms, much more wastewater can be treated hydraulically with high efficiency in less areas. In this situation, many advantages will be provided in the revision of classical wastewater treatment plants to advanced biological wastewater treatment plants, especially in places with space problems, to treat much more wastewater in the same volume as capacity increases. As explained in the declaration submitted by the Ministry of Environment and Forestry within the scope of Combating Mucilage, the project can also reveal scientific results for the design and research of the vision of using membrane systems to provide wastewater recovery in the modernization of wastewater treatment plants.



Innovative Hybrid Membrane Bioreactor (If-Mbr) SystemInnovative Hybrid Membrane Bioreactor (If-Mbr) System


Hybrid Membrane Bioreactor System

Influent   -  Effluent
Hybrid Membrane Bioreactor System


Hybrid IFAS System

Influent   -  Effluent
Hybrid IFAS System

Development of an Integrated Ecosystem Modelling Based Decision Support System for Management of Manyas Lake Watershed (2018-2022)

The aim of this project is to develop an infrastructure that automizes the generation of program of measures for eutrofied lakes as far as possible.

Lakes in Turkey are being polluted at increasing levels due to the environmental pressures and eutrophication and are losing their ecological functions. Lakes and their watersheds should be managed properly to prevent this process that is proceeding even faster in shallow lakes. Therefore, it is important to propose measures and best management practices that are feasible for the lake ecosystems and their watersheds. Since the measures and the best management practices are generally costly, it is required to conduct cost-benefit analysis and determine the best options.

The methodology consists of several components such as monitoring and ecological analysis, integrated ecosystem modelling spatial decision support systems and determination of the program of measures. Each of these components is handled in a different work package directly linked to one main and three sub projects, whereas the fifth work package is devoted to project management and dissemination.

The proposed project will develop holistic models and other tools, which can serve as a guide for solution of for the problems and developed tools can be used in watersheds similar to Manyas Lake Watershed.

Since the model infrastructure that will be developed will include “a physically-based and deterministic hydrological model” the project is directly related to “1003-SUA-YNTM-2016-1 Factors Affecting Water Resources” Paragraph 3. Moreover since such a model would be possibly used for estimation of the effects of climate change on water resources, the project is related to Paragraph 1 of the same call. Manyas Lake is a sensitive inland water ecosystem, it is classified as wetland and the aquatic ecosystem model that will be developed in the project contains organisms on different trophic levels, the project can be considered even further related to 1003-SUA-YNTM-2016-1 call.


A co-evolutionary modelling system for water-soil-vegetation interactions in Turkish semiarid landscapes for sustainable natural resources (2019-2022)

The objectives of the project suppoted by TÜBİTAK Research Funding Program Directorate were (1) to understand how the landscape morphology and erosion dynamics interact with changing climate in Turkish arid lands, where water-limited ecosystems prevail. (2) To characterize the co-evolution of ecosystems and landscapes within in an evolutionary perspective. (3) To assess the implications of nutrient–limitation on erosion yields.

This proposal test the following hypotheses: (1) If the semiarid regions in Turkey are prone to desertification, climate change will exacerbate the ecosystem conditions and will lead to higher erosion rates. (2) If the semiarid regions in Turkey are less productive, they cannot support enough growth for denser vegetation because of climatic conditions. Hence, the nutrient limitation in plant growth will lead to higher erosion yields. (3) Vegetation provides erosion protection on the earth surface. Hence, the land-cover change (degradation), such as forest to shrub or grass transition, or denser grass to sparser grass transition, as a result of climate change will lead to higher erosion yields. To reach these targets, in this study, it was used a state-of-the-art landscape evolution model which couples vegetation and landscape under given climate forcing. Representation in changes in the climate was implemented in the model. Then, the modelling results was investigated.

The social significance of this project, there is an immediate application to the Turkish landscapes. More than one-third of Turkish lands are water-limited; more than 50% of Turkish soils are experiencing severe or very severe erosion. Therefore, this study has socio-economic significance on a national scale. This research falls into the research priority: ‘improved  accuracy and precision in predicting and measuring the impact of environmental changes caused by climate and local factors’ (Vision 2023) which underlines the sustainability of food, energy, and natural resources.



Application of Innovative Treatment Technologies with Small Footprint to Fight against Mucilage and Water Recovery (2021-2022)

In the project, the effluent of a preliminary wastewater treatment plant was biologically treated with the aerobic granular sludge (AGS) system. The effluent of AGS system was passed through ultrafiltration (UF) membrane to eliminate suspended solids and turbidity, and pathogenic microorganisms will be retained to a large extent. Depending on the reuse purpose of the treated wastewater, UF effluent was treated with two different processes. In the first process, the UF effluent was disinfected with ultraviolet (UV) and the pathogen microorganisms was completely removed and the treated wastewater was used for irrigation of green areas, agricultural fields and water for general cleaning purposes (urban area cleaning, car wash, etc.). In the second process, UF effluent was passed through the reverse osmosis (RO) system to obtain high-quality effluent suitable for industrial processes use. At the end of this study, initial investment and operating costs for a full-scale facility was determined and presented in the project report.



Development of an Approach for Energy and Water Efficient Building and Settlement Design (2021 – 2023)

Project is supported by TUBITAK Project


Examining the climate of the Mediterranean Region with the newly developed Türkiye Global Climate Model (2021 – 2024)

Project is supported by TUBITAK Project


Satellite-Derived Bathymetry Modelling in Shallow Water: A Case Study of Horseshoe Island (2021 – 2023)

Project is supported by TUBITAK Project



Workshop: TUBA- Current Situation and Future of Water Resources in the Framework of Climate Change (2022)





World Water Day Program at ITU (2022)


The program on “The Future of Water” was held on 22 March World Water Day with the participation of Prof. Dr. Zekai Şen, who is known for his important studies in the field.


World Water Day Program at ITU 2022