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2.5 United for clean water resources – international co-operation

United for clean water resources – international co-operation
(Source: André Künzelmann, (UFZ))

In its efforts to improve water supplies across the globe, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) supports a variety of research and development projects to devise technologies and concepts for the sustainable management of water resources. In the last funding period, these efforts focused primarily on Asia, the Middle East, Eastern Europe and Africa.

Technologies and procedures tried and tested in Germany generally require adaptation to regional, economic and social conditions. Another important factor is the training of local specialists. One of the main aims of the international water research projects is the transfer of knowledge to the relevant persons on site, thus enabling them to implement and pursue their own projects. German companies are contributing valuable expertise to these research and development initiatives. The BMBF-funded projects are thus also helping to establish new export markets for the German water industry – in areas that are likely to experience considerable growth over the coming decades.

Example of Indonesia. The southern coast of the island of Java is one of the poorest regions in Indonesia. The inhabitants suffer a severe lack of water, despite the relative abundance of this valuable resource underground. Previously, the water flowed straight into the sea via a complex underground water system comprising more than 1,000 caves. As part of the project “Accessing and managing underground karst waters in Central Java, Indonesia”, German and Indonesian scientists constructed a small underground hydroelectric power plant with which water can be transported to the surface to supply some 80,000 people (project 2.5.01).

Example of China. In the build-up to the Beijing 2008 Olympic Games, a water concept was devised for the 550 hectare Olympic Park with the Sino-German research project “Development of a sustainable water concept for the Olympic Park in Beijing, 2008”. Research is also to be carried out to assess the transferability of the results to other regions of China as well as other states (2.5.02). The many hygienically relevant micro-organisms (viruses, bacteria, protozoa, worm eggs) present in the wastewater – even after biological cleaning – mean that adequate purification of the water is required before it can be reused. However, chlorination is generally accompanied by the formation of unwanted disinfection by-products. A comparison of various procedures has shown that alternatives exist to conventional wastewater treatment. The IWAR institute of the Technische Universität Darmstadt has tested four of these alternative procedures in China (project 2.5.08).

Example of Iran. Mashhad is the second largest city in Iran and is situated in an arid zone. To supply the population with low-nitrate drinking water, the BMBF worked with the Iranian Ministry of Energy on the project “Demonstration of different high-performance procedures developed in Germany for the removal of nitrate from drinking water and their adaptation to the treatment of groundwater with high concentrations of sodium nitrate and other salts using the example of drinking water purification in Mashhad, Iran” (project 2.5.03).

Example of Russia. At 3,500 kilometres, the Volga is Europe’s longest river. Massive intervention has altered the waterway on an almost unprecedented scale – with complex consequences for people and the environment. As part of a German-Russian project, sustainable solutions were developed for the economic and ecological management of the Volga and its feeder streams (project 2.5.04).

Example of Vietnam. Black coal is an important energy source in Vietnam, but mining efforts cause significant damage to the environment. The aim of the German-Vietnamese project “RAME (Research Association Mining and Environment)” in the Quang Ningh province is to transfer remediation technologies from the German coal mining industry to its Vietnamese counterpart (project 2.5.05).

Example of Israel. Scientists from Germany and Israel have worked together to develop new measuring procedures to serve as the basis for continuous monitoring of the pollutant content of drinking water sources in Israel (project 2.5.06). In another project detailed in this brochure, German and Israeli scientists are using cloud seeding in an attempt to counter desiccation of the land (project 2.5.07).

Ressource Wasser
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