Berlin – There is one problem that sounds contradictory: Berlin-Brandenburg is one of the regions with the most water in the country. It lies between the Elbe and the Oder, and there are more than ten thousand lakes. At the same time, there will probably be problems with the water supply in the long term. This is what the “Water Moves Berlin” initiative is based on.
“That is already the case in Brandenburg,” says Markus Müller, spokesman for the initiative. “In the summer, the lack of water in some regions resulted in bans on blasting gardens.” That was not the case in Berlin. But it will come. The landscape planner says he has dealt intensively with the Elbe. The river has had stable water levels for a long time. Now climate change is having an impact, there is less rain, there are droughts. “Since 2014 the Elbe has been carrying less and less water. Something large is going on there, so something has to happen to us too. “
The situation has changed dramatically
In the initiative, experts, scientists, entrepreneurs, politicians and artists have come together to draw attention to the water problem. Now the initiative has made demands on the future Berlin Senate, which they want to discuss on Monday at the 24th city talk.
Stefan Richter, Chairman of the Berlin Future Foundation, says that the city talks began 20 years ago. “At that time we wrote in the invitation: Water concerns us all. Although at that time it was easily available in our latitudes. We now know that this has changed dramatically. ”Water is no longer readily available and is not used sustainably.
The location is described by the professor and hydrogeologist Irina Engelhardt from the TU Berlin. She speaks of the fact that a higher water stress can already be observed in Brandenburg. There are plateaus like the Barnim, where the groundwater level sinks. “The situation there is quite tense.”
Problems are also emerging for Berlin: 70 percent of the drinking water there is not taken from the groundwater, but from the bank filtrate – that is water that seeps away from rivers. “Bank filtration is heavily dependent on the water flow of the Havel and Spree,” says the hydrologist. The Spree in particular had less water in the dry years. There is a low water concept between Berlin and Brandenburg that defines how much water the river should carry. But the minimum amount was often no longer achieved. “We need measures to improve the system.”
Because the problems will increase when coal production in Lusatia ends. In order to be able to get them out of the opencast mines, the groundwater is constantly pumped out and channeled into the Spree. But the decision to phase out coal has been made, and then less water will be produced.
In Brandenburg’s agriculture, two percent of the arable land is irrigated, said Irina Engelhardt, in Lower Saxony it is 20 percent. Brandenburg has been the driest region for years. “As the dry months increase, agriculture will need irrigation.”
There will be conflicts of distribution between the population, agriculture, industry and nature conservation. “The farmers and foresters in Brandenburg have a central requirement: A central organizing hand is needed,” says Stefan Richter from the Stiftung Zukunft Berlin. It is also about the prioritization in the distribution and the question: Who has to back off? The Brandenburg government is very open to the idea of an organizing hand, says Richter. “We hope that this will also be the case with the new Berlin government.”
A representative in each district
Berlin can also make a significant contribution to improving the situation. There are two waterworks to be reopened. They were closed in the 1990s when the population was falling. “We have to consider whether we have to build new waterworks,” says initiative spokesman Müller. In addition, the groundwater reserves under Berlin would have to be conserved. Gardens could be less watered in summer. Or in parks it could be done automatically at night when less evaporation. Retention basins for rainwater are required for the parks.
It is also important to unseal more areas that have been concreted over so that more rain can seep away. It is a good thing that rainwater is no longer allowed to be discharged into the sewer system in new buildings, but has to seep away on the property or be used in the houses – for example for flushing toilets. Now public buildings and schools should be converted and rainwater management should be mandatory there. “That is only possible with money, a lot of good will and gentle pressure,” says Müller. For this purpose, a climate adaptation officer must be appointed in each district.