Climate change means new challenges for the drinking water supply. A recent article in Science Daily spotlighted Germany’s experience with this. Rising temperatures in Germany’s largest drinking water reservoir – Rappbode Reservoir – have the potential to increase significantly and could impact the drinking water supply and related planning in the future. Researchers say that the impacts can be tempered by applying new management strategies or mitigating climate change on a broader scale. 

A scientific team, led by the Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research (UFZ), looked at three scenarios for future greenhouse gas emissions. Under the RCP 8.5 scenario, water temperatures will increase significantly in the depths of the reservoir, where the water is normally “cold and contains only low levels of suspended substances, dissolved metals, algae, bacteria and potentially pathogenic microorganisms.” As the oxygen content there drops faster with rising water temperatures, the risk of contamination increases. 

The researchers propose that to address this looming challenge, the reservoir’s operators would have to change the way the reservoir is managed, in the form of greater treatment efforts as well as making provisions for the higher demands in terms of the treatment capacity they would need to reserve. 

“We definitely have options and can respond to new conditions caused by climate change…[to] alleviate certain negative impacts through climate adaptation measures.” – said UFZ scientist Dr. Karsten Rinke.

“Preventing the deep water from warming is also worthwhile from the perspective of the drinking water supply, and the ideal way to do this is ambitious climate policies that limit warming,” Rinke added.

For the full article, click here.

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