The storage of water in high quality and quantity is the key to sustainable water management in the Anthropocene, which is characterised by extreme climatic events such as short-term heavy rainfall and prolonged dry periods. With the consistent storage of runoff peaks and wild runoff in existing aquifers, and the delayed and long-term provision of the stored water in dry periods, the research project goes well beyond flood protection during extreme events (e.g. flood polders) and links flood and drought management. For rural areas and, indirectly through increased river discharge, also for urban areas, it represents a solution approach for managing increasingly frequent periods of drought. The concept of Smart-SWS uses existing, technically "upgradeable" storage possibilities in the geological subsurface.
Currently, decentralised flood protection measures, with the exception of reservoir in lakes, are of a short-term nature. They are oriented towards the time course of typical flood events. The retained water is not available for further, long-term and higher-value use. Underground storage facilities, on the other hand, are available at many locations, offer the possibility of using the natural purification processes in the aquifer (interactions with the rock matrix, filtration, degradation) to further improve the quality of the event water stored in accordance with the regulations. The widespread establishment of underground storage facilities can only succeed if the effects of storage operation on the aquifer can be understood and verifiably controlled in all relevant areas.
The research project follows a scaled approach that leads from the technical concept model to the numerical prediction of the operational behaviour and impacts, experimental investigations of critical system components and the experimental implementation of a small-scale storage facility to the technical plans for an efficient large-scale underground storage facility. In parallel, the legal, ecological and economic boundary conditions are being worked on in order to resolve conflicts of use and interest. Under the premise that the use of the underground will have consequences, the benefits should be optimised through multifunctional storage (e.g. water + energy). For this purpose, the basic potentials are being clarified. In the research project, a series of innovative measurement and analysis methods will be used, which will be reduced in the project consortium to a set of parameters that can be collected efficiently and cost-effectively for regular operation.
Finally, for the implementation of the storage concepts, the legal admissibility of conflicts of use and changes in the ecosystem functions of the used subsurface in a in an environment characterised by concurrent use interests. With the planning tools developed, the aim is to create a technical plan for the large-scale example project, and to for the large-scale example project and to provide the evidence required for approval. Through further successful small and large-scale pilot projects, the wider use of this method for resource management in a changing environment could be promoted. The establishment of criteria for suitable locations will support the identification of sites for follow-up projects.
Project duration: 01.03.2022 - 28.02.2025