The newsletter from TZW: DVGW-Technologiezentrum Wasser



Josef Klinger

Dear colleagues,

The year 2021 is still young and it is already foreseeable that the Corona pandemic and its consequences will have a strong influence this year as well. However, we are looking optimistically ahead and would like to present some newly launched or recently approved projects. This shows the entire range of our activities, which thematically are always "on the pulse of the water sector": Nitrate monitoring using artificial intelligence, wastewater-based epidemiology, inspection procedures for drinking water pipeline networks and the long-term effects of fluorinated compounds are the topics we have selected for you.

We also report on the personnel and organisational changes that were implemented at the turn of the year at TZW in order to be even more efficiently positioned in the future and to be able to realise many innovative projects.

Have an inspiring reading

Dr. Josef Klinger

Nitrate monitoring 4.0 – protecting groundwater with AI

Excessively high nitrate levels in drinking water can lead to adverse health effects. Monitoring of water quality shows that the condition of groundwater is at risk in many places. However, the monitoring networks that can realistically be set up are too coarsely meshed to map the complex spatial and temporal nitrate distribution in groundwater in as much detail as would be necessary for effective and efficient groundwater protection measures without elaborate flow and transport models. Artificial intelligence (AI) is expected to help change this. The joint project "Nitrate Monitoring 4.0" was launched in September 2020. In this project, scientists from Karlsruhe are developing an intelligent system to better understand and predict the spatial and temporal distribution of nitrate in groundwater with just a few measuring stations. TZW is a partner in this project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for the Environment (BMU). TZW is working on the topics of optimizing groundwater monitoring networks and tools for monitoring groundwater quality in daily operation.


BMBF project on the use of a novel SARS-CoV-2 biomarker

Recent studies show that infected patients excrete SARS-CoV-2 biomarkers in their stool at relatively high concentrations. Therefore, wastewater can be used as an early warning system to detect changes in infection patterns, to better elucidate the underreporting of COVID-19 cases, and to detect the spread of infection. A major goal of the research project is to comprehensively monitor COVID-19 infection incidence through wastewater based epidemiology using a novel SARS-CoV-2 biomarker model. In addition, it will enable accurate estimation and prediction of COVID-19 infections in a community based on PCR analysis in municipal wastewater. In this project, which is funded by the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research, TZW cooperates with the Technical University of Munich and Blue Biolabs GmbH.


New project for the inspection of drinking water pipelines during operation

Optical inspection systems are already in widespread use in the wastewater sector. A recently launched DVGW research project is to explore the potential of optical-acoustic systems for drinking water pipelines from October 2021. TZW is using a “watersnake” of the Gullyver company, which will be tested in the practical parts of the project at the participating water supply companies. The practical test, scientific monitoring and systematic evaluation will be led by experts from TZW together with IWW.


What happens to fluorinated compounds in the environment?

The PFAS issue in the Rastatt and Baden-Baden area is a good example how chemicals and their degradation products can be detected in the environment, e.g. in groundwater and soil, over many years or even decades after their release. For the polluted areas, it is assumed that compost mixed with PFAS-contaminated paper sludge was applied. A project funded by the Ministry of the Environment Baden-Wuerttemberg aims to clarify the causes and extent of contamination of polluted areas with perfluorinated and polyfluorinated alkyl compounds (PFAS). The central element of the joint project with five partners are laboratory tests with technical products and coated materials that have been used among others in the paper industry in the past. The use of these materials in growth tests enables natural processes to be mapped. By examining soil, plants and leachate, the relocation of fluorinated compounds within these compartments is addressed to a particular extent. Cutting-edge analytical methods are used for this purpose. Additionally, the basic principles for the determination of the new parameter value PFAStotal of the recently published EU Drinking Water Directive can be investigated.


Future-orientated reorganisation

TZW is starting 2021 with a new, future-oriented organisational structure. At the end of the year, two long-standing heads of department retired. "We have used the change in personnel to make the organisation at TZW leaner overall and thus more efficient. In addition, the organisational chart now reflects our thematic focal points even better," explains CEO Dr Josef Klinger. Three heads of department took up their new positions at TZW on 1 January 2021 (from left to right): Sebastian Sturm (Water supply, Karlsruhe), Dr Andreas Korth (Water distri-bution, Dresden) and Dr Johannes Ruppert (Test centre, Karlsruhe Durlacher Wald).



TZW Publication Series (in German) - New Volumes

Band 93: SARS-CoV-2 im Kontext der Wasserversorgung [SARS-CoV-2 in the context of water supply] (25 €)

Band 94: Durchflusszytometrie als schnelle Detektionsmethode für Bakterien [Flow cytometry as as rapid detection method for bacteria] (25 €)

Band 95: Innovationen für eine zukunftsfeste Wasserversorgung. TZW Kolloquium 25 digital (50 €)




TZW: DVGW-Technologiezentrum Wasser (German Water Centre), Karlsruher Straße 84, 76139 Karlsruhe, Deutschland, phone: +49 721 9678-0, fax: +49 721 9678-101, e-Mail:,

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