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Berlin Environmental Atlas

02.12 Groundwater Levels of the Main Aquifer and Panke Valley Aquifer (Edition 2008)

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Map Description

The present groundwater contour map describes the groundwater situation of the main aquifer with violet groundwater isolines and the Panke Valley aquifer in northeastern Berlin with blue isolines. These show the piezometric surface area of the unconfined and confined groundwater, respectively (see also Fig. 3). In areas of the main aquifer with confined groundwater, the groundwater contours are displayed in broken lines. In areas with no main groundwater aquifer or with an isolated main groundwater aquifer of low thickness, no groundwater isolines are displayed. Those areas are shown with dots.

The map is based on the topographical General Map of Berlin, 1:50,000, in grid format, and the geological outline for the Berlin state area 1:50,000 (2007), that was derived from the geological General Map of Berlin and Surrounding Areas, 1:100,000. In addition, the appropriate support points (groundwater measurement points and surface-water levels) as well as the individual waterworks are indicated, with their active wells and water conservation areas.

Hydrogeological Situation

On the plateaus, the main aquifer is extensively covered by the glacial till and bolder clay (aquitards) of the ground moraines. Wherever the piezometric surface of the main aquifer lies within this aquitard, groundwater conditions are confined. In sandy segments above the till, the periodic formation of perched groundwater is possible, which can, after extreme precipitation, rise to the surface. The groundwater levels of these locally highly differentiated areas have not been separately ascertained. Within the till, sandy islands may become filled with groundwater, or so-called stratum water (see also Fig. 3).

In the Panke Valley, on the northern side of the spillway, the Barnim Plateau, a major independent coherent aquifer has developed. It is located above the main aquifer, which is covered by the glacial till of the ground moraine (see also fig. 7 and 8). On the present map, this aquifer is indicated by separate blue groundwater isolines. A spur of the glacial till toward the Warsaw-Berlin Glacial Spillway creates an interlock of the Panke Valley aquifer with the main aquifer there.

For more information, see the Groundwater Brochure (only in German).

Current Hydraulic Situation in May 2008

As a rule in Berlin, the groundwater incline, and hence, too, the flow direction, is from the Barnim and Teltow Plateaus and the Nauen Plate toward the receiving bodies, the Spree and Havel Rivers. Depression cones have formed around the wells at those waterworks in operation during the measurement period, and have sunk the phreatic surface below the level of the neighboring surface waters. Thus, in addition to inflowing groundwater from the shore side, the water pumped here also includes groundwater formed by infiltration (bank-filtered water) from these surface waters (see also Fig. 4c).

In May 2008, the phreatic surface, which has been lowered in Berlin by drinking-water discharge over the past hundred years, was at a relatively high level compared to 1989 (Limberg et al. 2007: pp. 76 et seq.)and considerably higher than in May of the previous year) (Fig. 10).

Figure 10 - Click to enlarge (28 KB)
Fig. 10: Hydrographic Curve of Groundwater Levels at a Measurement Point in the Glacial Valley.
The very high precipitation in 2007 and particular from the end of january to april 2008 causes a clear increase of groundwater.

The reason for this are on the one hand extreme high precipitation in 2007 - at the measurement station Dahlem the very highest since the beginning of records 99 years before - and than the following precipitation in 2008.

Figure 11 - Click to enlarge (25 KB)
Fig. 11: Annual precipitation measurement station Dahlem from 1909 to 2007 (hydrological year: november 1th to oktober 31th)

On the other hand the furthermore reduced raw-water discharge by the Berlin Water Utility as a result of the falling needs of drinking and industrial water is responsible for the constant increase of groundwater. Five of the smaller Berlin waterworks (Altglienicke, Friedrichsfelde, Köpenick, Riemeisterfenn and Buch) were shut down altogether between 1991 and 1997. In addition, drinking water production at the two waterworks Johannisthal and Jungfernheide has been discontinued temporarily since September 2001; at the latter, the same has been true for artificial groundwater recharging. However, under the immediate water management measures of the Senate Department for Health, the Environment and Consumer Protection, groundwater is still being discharged at the Johannisthal location, so as not to endanger current local waste disposal and construction measures. Likewise at the Jungfernheide location, groundwater was discharged by the Department through the end of 2005. Since January 2006, a private company has continued this work temporarily.

The overall discharge of raw water by the Berlin Water Utility for drinking water purposes dropped by almost half in Berlin during a period of 19 years. In 1989, 378 million cu.m. were discharged, as opposed to 219 million cu.m. in 2002. In 2003, the discharge briefly increased slightly to 226 million cu.m. due to the extremely dry summer, but then dropped again by 2007, reaching 202 million cu.m. (Fig. 12).

Figure 12
Fig. 12: Drop in Raw-Water Discharge by the Berlin Water Utility over an nineteen-year Period

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[Table is also available as Excel-File (MS-Excel is required).]

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