Parametrisation and quantification of groundwater (GroundCare)

Ecosystem services as a basis for sustainable control

Groundwater is the most important resource for our drinking water. However, in many locations the good quality of groundwater is at risk or may have already been impacted by increasing contamination, extreme weather, accidents and changes in use. This project aimed to identify and standardise meaningful indicator parameters for the ecological and hygienic groundwater quality.

As an ecosystem, the saturated zone, which is filled with groundwater, is not only the habitat of a large number of organisms, but also plays a key role in important ecosystem services. These are essential for water purification and water storage. However, little is known about the performance of these groundwater ecosystem services under different boundary conditions. Furthermore, there is a lack of methods to describe the groundwater ecosystem itself and its services.

Within the framework of this project, meaningful indicator parameters for ecological and hygienic groundwater quality were identified and suitable methods for their measurement were standardised. The aim was to compile a collection of methods for the assessment of ecological groundwater quality, which will be published in the form of a guideline. Both inorganic (e.g. nitrate) and organic pollutants can be converted by microorganisms. To describe this important ecosystem service, new molecular biological detection methods for degradation-active organisms/enzymes have been established at the TZW. Therefore, the focus was mainly on the detection of antibiotic resistance genes and nitrogen conversion processes in groundwater. By means of extensive sampling at different field sites with different boundary conditions, the developed concepts and methods could be successfully tested and validated under real conditions.


Tiehm A., Arndt H., Bendinger B., Gierig M., Griebler C., Guderitz I., Hahn H.-J., Marxsen J., Preuß G., Richter S., Schlosser D. (Hrsg.):
Grundwasserbiologie – Grundlagen und Anwendungen, DWA-Themen T5/2012, DWA Deutsche Vereinigung für Wasserwirtschaft, Abwasser und Abfall e.V., ISBN 978-3-942964-42-5, Hennef, 237 Seiten (2012)

DVGW-Information Wasser Nr. 75, DVGW Deutscher Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches e.V., ISSN 0176-3504, Bonn, 254 Seiten (2012)