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BlueArk and HES-SO Valais-Wallis launch a new water management research hub

Cleantech

11 June 2024

BlueArk and HES-SO Valais-Wallis have signed a five-year agreement to create STREAM, a research lab focused on innovative water management solutions. Officials from BlueArk, the HES-SO Valais-Wallis and the cantonal government toasted with Valais water instead of wine as they launch the STREAM water management research hub, aiming to tackle water challenges with the same passion usually reserved for the canton’s vineyards. | © HES-SO Valais/Wallis

BlueArk and HES-SO Valais-Wallis have signed a five-year agreement to create STREAM, a research lab focused on innovative water management solutions.

BlueArk and the HES-SO Valais-Wallis’ Institute of Energy and Environment have joined forces to advance industrial competencies in water management. The two partners have signed a five-year contract to establish and develop the applied research laboratory STREAM (Sustainable Technology Research in Aqua Management). With a budget of approximately CHF 2 million over five years, STREAM aims to generate an annual revenue of CHF 1 million.

Addressing numerous water-related challenges such as heavy rainfall, flash floods, droughts, pollution, glacier retreat, snow scarcity, and irrigation needs, the new research hub will equip water network managers, communities, consumers, and tourism stakeholders with the tools and models needed to adapt to climate and societal changes. Joël Di Natale, Director of BlueArk, stated: “The beginning of discussions around this project dates back to 2021. We have long desired this partnership to create a comprehensive technology site around water and a driver of regional economic transition.”

The STREAM laboratory will be located at BlueArk’s facilities in Val de Bagnes and will host researchers from HES-SO Valais-Wallis. These researchers will collaborate closely with water network managers from the shareholder communities of BlueArk. Christophe Maret, President of Val de Bagnes, highlighted the strategic importance of this initiative, saying: “Our positioning around water-related innovation will offer new economic development opportunities.”

The initial focus will be on digitizing and improving water-related infrastructures, adapting to climate and societal changes, and promoting multi-use water management. Through new tools such as artificial intelligence, advanced sensors, and digital models, water management in Valais can achieve a balanced approach that meets human needs, supports ecosystem health, and ensures water availability. STREAM will explore two main areas: the energy efficiency of water networks, including integration with other renewable energy sources, and long-term water management that considers the diverse needs of local stakeholders.

Located within the Energypolis Campus, which unites HES-SO Valais-Wallis, EPFL Valais Wallis, and The Ark Foundation, STREAM benefits from a unique environment fostering collaboration between fundamental research, applied research, and economic valorization. François Seppey, Director of HES-SO Valais-Wallis, emphasized: “This partnership perfectly illustrates our commitment to promoting sustainability by integrating environmental, socio-health, ethical, and economic dimensions into our research projects.”

STREAM aligns with the canton of Valais’ water management strategy, as noted by Franz Ruppen, President of the State Council. “It is essential to move rapidly towards coordinated management of the multifunctional water resource and develop synergies among different actors. This initiative meets the cantonal government’s priorities, particularly the implementation of sustainable development principles.”

This initiative underscores the commitment of BlueArk and HES-SO Valais-Wallis to developing advanced water management solutions and ensuring a coordinated, balanced, and sustainable approach to this vital resource.