Water shortage in Germany – New ideas for long-term security | DW Documentary

People and countries worldwide are facing more droughts, more heat and growing water shortages. Even in Germany a sufficient supply of water cannot be taken for granted everywhere. The hope now is to secure that supply with new – and old – ideas.

The situation in Germany is not comparable to that in many hotter countries, but even here the search for clean water is becoming a growing challenge. Some regions have had an acutely dry last few years, and groundwater levels have plummeted. The causes are not just more drought periods but also soil sealing – and higher pollutant levels in the water have also become a problem.
The search for solutions has many facets. Günther Westenhoff has spent years using his divining rod to track down water sources for drilling companies. Increasing aridity means they have to bore deeper and deeper. While he cannot explain how his divining rod works, he shows us that it produces results.
Water rights – who is permitted to extract how much water – are becoming a source of growing contention. In the small southern German town of Bergtheim the mayor has been trying to mediate between consumers and farmers, who require more water for their crops. One solution would be a long-distance pipeline – but the costs would have to be passed on to those consuming the water.
It’s been a wakeup call for customers, says civil engineer Andreas Baur, who is based nearby. He provides advice on finding water supplies – and has become a very busy man. Many local authorities are eager to prepare for further dry periods by drilling new wells. Bauer says water consumption has risen – in industry, farming and for private demand, such as for filling swimming pools. The first step in locating water is to compile hydrogeological maps and calculate the groundwater flow. Then the geologists recommend specific spots to conduct drilling.
In northern Germany it’s not just climate change causing problems with water. In large parts of Lower Saxony and North Rhine Westphalia, upper groundwater areas have been rendered unusable by the farming sector’s sprays, nitrates from liquid manure and fermentation residues. Egon Harms from the OOWV water provider says they now need a 10-year head-start with drilling before the same things happens to deeper layers. Things are looking bleak, and although Germany is now finally complying with nitrate limits after years of EU pressure, Egon Harms insists that far too little action is being taken to protect drinking water.

#documentary #dwdocumentary #germany #climatechange

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