Groundwater is named water body type 2022

Germany’s most important source of drinking water and guarantor of ecosystems must enjoy lasting protection

Ein Foto in der Blauhöhle. Zu sehen Grundwasser und eine Person in einem Boot.Click to enlarge
Water Body Type of the Year 2022: Groundwater
Source: Andreas Kücha

The motto of World Water Day 2022 is “Groundwater: Making the Invisible Visible”. Some 70 percent of drinking water in Germany is extracted from groundwater and spring water. Our ecosystems and forests in particular depend on a sufficient amount of groundwater. The German Environment Agency has therefore named groundwater as the water body type of the year 2022. Contamination by nitrate or pesticides, climate change and water abstraction are endangering the quality and quantity of this vital resource.

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.

Umweltbundesamt Hauptsitz

Wörlitzer Platz 1
06844 Dessau-Roßlau

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