Groundwater protection

Groundwater, which is a main source for drinking water in Austria, is always covered by soil. Its soiling regulates the infiltration of rainfall into the underground and prevents unwanted materials from entering the groundwater. How effective this conservation is, depends on the filter effect of the soils and on the quantity of water seeping through. Our goal is to conserve the ground water punctually and laminar so it can be used as drinking water without further processing.

In order to do that we are compiling basic assessment-, planning- and decisional data and are developing suitable measures to avoid the entry of pollutants and problematic substances like nitrate, pesticides and heavy metals into the groundwater. For that, we are relying on the results of field experiments, the application of calculation models (e.g. STOTRASIM) and the examination of hydrological characteristics in our lab.

The water and substance dynamics from the ground surface to the groundwater characterize the quantity and quality of subterranean water resources. Aside from pure transport mechanisms, retention, release, depletion and conversion are crucial processes. Substance transport in the unsaturated area/zone is a key issue of groundwater conservation as well as of soil conservation.

Current Activities:

Field survey

The metrological field survey of water and substance flow in the soil offers a database in spatial and temporal dimensions, which is essential for the estimation of sustainable groundwater management and the calibration of calculation models.

Simulation Models

Using simulation models we attempt to recreate the processes, interactions and proceedings of nature and work out solutions and analysing scenarios. We have developed and service the substance-transport model STOTRASIM to the unsaturated zone.

Risk assessment

Combining the results from field surveys, scenario analysis and under consideration of soil-hydrological characteristics gained by laboratory examinations, we evaluate the risks of ground water protection for regional determining factors (weather, land use, land management).

published at 16.09.2016, BAW-IKT - Institut für Kulturtechnik und Bodenwasserhaushalt