Austria’s Water Treasure - Foundations for Sustainable Groundwater Use

Water of sufficient quality and quantity is essential for the supply of the Austrian population with high-quality drinking water for the nutritional sovereignty by means of safeguarding agricultural production and for the business location Austria. A prerequisite for that is the sustainable use and management of groundwater resources taking into consideration climate change.

Austria is a country, which is very rich in water resources, however, the groundwater resources are unevenly distributed. Dry periods in the course of the past few years have resulted in occasional regional and seasonal bottlenecks.
Due to the effects of climate change, such as changes in precipitations, rise in temperature, or increased evaporation, such situations can occur more frequently in future.

With the project “Austria’s Water Treasure” the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism has commissioned, in addition to the National Water Management Plan (NGP Nationaler Gewässermanagementplan), the preparation of detailed technical foundations for sectoral planning and preventive measures.

Central Issues:

  • What is the quantity of utilisable groundwater resources - i.e. how much groundwater can be withdrawn without entailing any negative effects on the long run?
  • What is the volume of water demand for drinking water supply, industry, trade, and agriculture?
  • What is the ratio between the water demand and the available groundwater resources, thus the utilisation factor now and in future?

Approach:

  • The questions are dealt with in cooperation between the Federal Government, the Federal Provinces, and representations of interest.
  • Project partners are the Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt GmbH), the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (Universität für Bodenkultur) and the engineering Office Holler.

Results:

  • Regional representation of the current situation of water demand and groundwater resources
  • Scenarios for the year 2050 (taking into consideration the potential effects of climate change)
  • Analysis of the heat and dry periods of the most recent past
  • Methodology of regular updating of the most recent water abstraction data
  • Information brochure and methodology volume

Project period: October 2019 - December 2020.

published at 04.12.2020, Kommunikation und Service (Abteilung Präs. 5)