The summers of 2018 and 2019 saw low precipitation and heat combined with constant and in some cases increasing water abstraction, causing many groundwater levels to fall and resulting in widespread major agricultural yield losses and negative impacts on forests. Measures must therefore be taken to retain the available water in the landscape for longer and to stabilise the landscape water regime.
The groundwater quality in Germany is particularly threatened by high nitrate and pesticide inputs. Around one third of its groundwater bodies are in poor chemical condition due to excessive nitrate pollution. Pesticide residues can be detected at more than half of all measuring points. Significantly less nitrate and pesticides must enter groundwater in the future so that it can continue to be used as drinking water without expensive treatment.
Groundwater is also the water body type of the year from an ecological point of view: the subsoil is an important usable water reservoir and habitat that is populated by a diverse community of organisms. Groundwater is possibly the largest freshwater ecosystem in the world, performing important functions in the global hydrological cycle. For example, it is home to numerous groundwater organisms invisible to us, which move in the water-filled gaps and fissures of the subsoil and keep them open, thus making important contributions to groundwater quality. These organisms also need to be protected from exposure to harmful chemicals and temperature changes.