BGR Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe

Groundwater resources management

Well drilling activities in the Namib DesertWell drilling activities in the Namib Desert Source: BGR

The drinking water demand is increasing mainly due to population growth. More water is also needed to meet the requirements of the agriculture and industry sectors. Simultaneously, the available drinking water resources are globally declining because of overexploitation and pollution. These opposite developments intensify the effects of irresponsible use of groundwater as the largest freshwater reservoir. This is especially true for aquifers in dry areas that have already without negative influences of climate change very low groundwater recharge at present but often storage non-renewable partly enormous fossil groundwater resources accumulated in former periods of earth history. For a sustainable use of these resources, an adapted and forward-looking groundwater management is of vital importance.

A successful groundwater management requires precise information on groundwater quantity and quality, its renewability and the hydrogeological structure of the underground. Based on this data, utilization concepts are developed that also consider ecological and socio-economic aspects. The feasibility of these concepts is tested in model experiments that allow the analysis of the present conditions of a groundwater system as well as its possible temporal development. Modelling results are the design parameters utilized in the preparation of water management plans which are used by national and multinational decision-makers and organizations like federal ministries and authorities, geological surveys and water management authorities.

Mathematical methods and numerical modelling are of great significance for groundwater management. Numerical models allow the analysis of the present conditions and the evolution of groundwater systems, as well as an estimation of the impact of factors such as temperature and salt dependent water density on the flow field. Furthermore, they can simulate and predict the spreading of solutes in groundwater. They are an essential tool for the protection of groundwater and the development of measures to be taken in case of pollution. Decisions for an integrated water resources management are supported by models that include the most important parameters and processes, and confront supply with demand taking ecologic and economic aspects into account. Numerical models are also of decisive importance for the prognosis of the evolution of fresh water resources under climate change conditions, water supply depending on population growth, long-term safety of waste disposal sites or the impact of mining activities on the environment as a basis for the development of management strategies.

Current projects:

Find a compilation of our groundwater related projects in the English project list and/or German project list.


Dr.-Ing. Sara Ines Vassolo
Phone: +49-(0)511-643-2818

This Page: