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SWISSKARST: Towards a sustainable management of karst waters in Switzerland

English title SWISSKARST: Towards a sustainable management of karst waters in Switzerland
Applicant Jeannin Pierre-Yves
Number 125962
Funding scheme NRP 61 Sustainable Water Management
Research institution Institut Suisse de Spéléologie et de Karstologie ISSKA
Institution of higher education Institut Suisse de Spéléologie et Karstologie - ISSKA
Main discipline Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Start/End 01.01.2010 - 31.12.2013
Approved amount 351'910.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Hydrology, Limnology, Glaciology
Other disciplines of Engineering Sciences

Keywords (8)

Modelling; Inventory & documentation (synthetic overview); Effects of climate change on karst aquifers; Water resource assessment; Water reserve; Karst groundwater; Sustainable management

Lay Summary (German)

Lead
Karstwasser, eine Wasserressource für die Zukunft? Wie können Grundwasservorkommen in Karstregionen wie dem Jura oder den Voralpen nachhaltig bewirtschaftet werden, unter Bedingungen von Klimawandel, erhöhter Ausbeutung des Bodens durch Landwirtschaft und Urbanisierung und einer vielfältigeren Nutzung des Untergrundes selbst (Trinkwasser, Geothermie, verschiedene Infrastrukturen)?
Lay summary

Hintergrund
Mit 120 km3 Wasserreserve und 6 bis 8 km3/Jahr an jährlichem Wasservorrat stellen die Karstaquiferen in der Schweiz etwa 80% der Wasserreserve und 50% des Grundwasservorrats dar. Karstaquiferen haben Eigenschaften, die sich wesentlich von denen anderer Aquiferen unterscheiden und sind in der Schweiz kaum untersucht: Es gibt weder Karten noch Studien, die Karstaquiferen systematisch beschreiben.
Welche Auswirkungen werden folgende Entwicklungen auf Karstaquiferen haben?
- Klimaveränderungen, die zunehmend eine Anpassung unseres Trinkwasserversorgungssystems erfordern.
- Tunnelbau, verschiedene Bohrungen (zum Beispiel für die Nutzung von Wärme aus dem Untergrund).
- Suche nach Wasser zur Elektrizitätsproduktion.
- Die Infiltrierung mit Sauberwasser von mehr oder weniger kontrollierter Quantität und Qualität.

Ziel
Ziel dieses Projektes ist die Etablierung eines nationalen Inventars der Karstaquiferen. Eine pragmatische, praxisorientierte Dokumentation wird ausgearbeitet. Der methodische Ansatz kombiniert dreidimensionale Modelle mit geologischen und hydrologischen Daten. Verschiedene reale Nutzungsbeispiele werden ebenfalls berücksichtigt, um das Konzept an Bedürfnisse aus der Praxis und an Nutzungskonflikte anpassen zu können. Auf diese Weise kann Information auf nationaler Ebene gebündelt werden, mindestens auf dem Niveau der grossen Karstaquiferen.

Bedeutung
Die Resultate dieses Projektes stellen eine nützliche Basis dar, um Karstaquifere nachhaltig zu bewirtschaften. Dies ist nur denkbar, wenn ein Gleichgewicht zwischen den verschiedenen Nutzungsformen einerseits und der natürlichen Funktion dieses Systems andererseits erreicht werden kann. Die Resultate werden sowohl staatlichen Stellen als auch interessierten Kreisen aus der Privatwirtschaft (z. B. Elektrizitätswirtschaft) und der Allgemeinheit zugänglich gemacht.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.02.2013

Lay Summary (French)

Lead
Les eaux karstiques, une ressource hydrique pour le futur? Comment gérer durablement les ressources en eau souterraine dans les régions karstiques comme le Jura et les Préalpes alors que le climat change, que l’agriculture et l’urbanisation intensifient l’exploitation du sol et que l’utilisation du sous-sol lui-même se diversifie (eau potable, géothermie, infrastructures diverses)?
Lay summary

Contexte
Avec 120 km3 de réserve et 6 à 8 km3/an de ressource annuelle, les aquifères karstiques représentent en Suisse environ 80% de la réserve et 50% de la ressource en eau souterraine du pays. Or les aquifères karstiques présentent des caractéristiques bien distinctes des autres types d’aquifères et ils sont mal connus en Suisse, puisqu’aucune carte ou document ne les décrit de manière systématique.
Quels effets sur les aquifères karstiques auront donc:
- les changements climatiques qui exigent une adaptation progressive de notre système d’alimentation en eau potable,
- le percement de tunnels, de forages divers (par exemple pour l’exploitation de chaleur du sous-sol),
- la recherche d’eau pour la production d’électricité,
- l’infiltration d’eaux claires en quantité et qualité plus ou moins contrôlée?

But
Le présent projet vise à préparer un inventaire national des aquifères karstiques. Un concept de documentation pragmatique et orienté vers la pratique est en cours d'élaboration. L’approche mêlera modèles en trois dimensions, données géologiques et hydrologiques. Différents cas réels d’utilisation seront aussi pris en considération afin d’ajuster le concept aux besoins de la pratique et aux conflits d’usage. Ainsi, une documentation pourra être établie à l’échelle nationale, au moins au niveau des grands aquifères karstiques.

Portée
La gestion durable des aquifères karstiques n’est envisageable que si un certain équilibre peut être trouvé entre les diverses formes d’exploitation et le fonctionnement naturel de ce système particulier. Les résultats du projet constitueront une base utile et directement utilisable pour la gestion des eaux souterraines karstiques suisses. Ils seront mis à la disposition des administrations, des intervenants privés (p.ex. compagnies d’hydroélectricité) et du public.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.02.2013

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Karstic waters, a water resource for the future? How can groundwater resources be sustainably managed in karstic regions such as the Jura or the Prealps, while the climate changes, the exploitation of the soil through agriculture and urbanization increases and the use of the underground in itself becomes more diversified (drinking water, geothermal applications, various infrastructures)?
Lay summary
Background
With a reserve of 120 km3 and an annual resource of 6 to 8 km3, the karstic aquifers represent approximately 80% of the reserve and 50% of the groundwater resources in Switzerland. And yet, karstic aquifers present characteristics that are very different from those of other types of aquifers. Also, they are not well known in Switzerland, because there are no maps or documents that describe them systematically.
What effects will the following points have on karstic aquifers?
- Climate changes which progressively induce an adaptation of our drinking water supply system.
- Tunnel drilling, various borings (for example for the exploitation of heat from the underground).
- Water prospecting for power production.
- Infiltration of fresh water in more or less controlled quantity and quality.

Objectives and methods
The aim of this project is to establish a national inventory of the karstic aquifers. A pragmatic and practically-oriented documentation concept is being elaborated. The approach will combine three-dimensional models with geological and hydrological data. Various actual instances of use will also be taken into account, so that the concept can be adapted to practical needs and usage conflicts. In this way, information on a national scale can be put together, analyzed and compared, at least at the level of the large karstic aquifers.

Significance
Sustainable karstic aquifer management is only conceivable if a certain balance can be achieved between the different exploitation forms and the natural functioning of this particular system. The results of the project build a useful basis that can be directly applied to the management of the underground karstic waters in Switzerland. They will be made available to administrations, stakeholders from the private sector (e.g. hydroelectric companies) as well as the general public.

Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 11.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Geometría y direcciones de flujo de agua subterránea preliminares de acuíferos kársticos mediante el método KARSYS. Picos de Europa, Norte de España
Ballesteros Daniel, Malard Arnauld, Jeannin Pierre-Yves, Jiménez-Sánchez M, García-Sansegundo J, Meléndez M, Sendra G (2013), Geometría y direcciones de flujo de agua subterránea preliminares de acuíferos kársticos mediante el método KARSYS. Picos de Europa, Norte de España, in Berrezueta E & Domínguez-Cuesta M J (ed.), 51-60.
Interpretation of hydrogeological functioning of a high karst plateau using the KARSYS approach: the case of Trovsko-Banjška planota (Slovenia)
Turk Janez, Malard Arnauld, Jeannin Pierre-Yves, Vouillamoz Jonathan, Petrič Metka, Gabrovšek Franci, Slabe Tadej, Viršek Ravbar Nataša, Masini Jean (2013), Interpretation of hydrogeological functioning of a high karst plateau using the KARSYS approach: the case of Trovsko-Banjška planota (Slovenia), in Acta Carsologica, 42(1), 61-74.
Mapping flood related hazards in karst using KARSYS approach. Application to the Beuchire-Creugenat karst system (Ju, Switzerland)
Vouillamoz Jonathan, Malard Arnauld, Schwab-Rouge Gabrielle, Weber Eric, Jeannin Pierre-Yves (2013), Mapping flood related hazards in karst using KARSYS approach. Application to the Beuchire-Creugenat karst system (Ju, Switzerland), in 13th Multidisciplinary Conference on Sinkholes and the Engineering and Environmental impact of karst, Carlsbad, New Mexico.
A pragmatic simulation of karst spring discharge with semidistributed models. Advantages and limits for assessing the effect of climate change
Weber Eric, Jeannin Pierre Yves, Malard Arnauld, Vouillamoz Jonathan, Jordan Frederic (2012), A pragmatic simulation of karst spring discharge with semidistributed models. Advantages and limits for assessing the effect of climate change, in Actes du 13e Congrès National de Spéléologie, Muotathal, Suisse. 29 sept au 01 oct 2012.
Swisskarst Project – toward a sustainable management of karst water in Switzerland. Application to the Bernese Jura
Malard Arnauld, Vouillamoz Jonathan, Weber Eric, Jeannin Pierre Yves (2012), Swisskarst Project – toward a sustainable management of karst water in Switzerland. Application to the Bernese Jura, in Actes du 13e Congrès National de Spéléologie, Muotathal, Suisse. 29 sept au 01 oct 2012, Muotathal (Switzerland).
Identification Cards of karst systems as tools for a sustainable management of karst systems
Demary Sabrina, Vouillamoz Jonathan, Eichenberger Urs, Weber Eric, Jeannin Pierre Yves (2011), Identification Cards of karst systems as tools for a sustainable management of karst systems, in H2Karst, 9th Conference on Limestone Hydrogeology, Besançon (France) 1-4 sep. 2011, 115-118, 115-118.
KARSYS, un concept de caractérisation des systèmes karstiques pour une gestion durable des ressources en eau
Vouillamoz Jonathan, Jeannin Pierre Yves, Demary Sabrina, Weber Eric, Malard Arnauld, Eichenberger Urs (2011), KARSYS, un concept de caractérisation des systèmes karstiques pour une gestion durable des ressources en eau, in H2Karst, 9th Conference on Limestone Hydrogeology, Besançon (France) 1-4 sep. 2011, 475-478, 475-478.
Swisskarst project (NRP61): Towards a pragmatic simulation of karst spring discharge with conceptual semi-distributed model. The Flims case study (Eastern Swiss Alps)
Weber Eric, Jordan Frederic, Jeannin Pierre Yves, Vouillamoz Jonathan, Eichenberger Urs, Malard Arnauld (2011), Swisskarst project (NRP61): Towards a pragmatic simulation of karst spring discharge with conceptual semi-distributed model. The Flims case study (Eastern Swiss Alps), in H2Karst, 9th Conference on Limestone Hydrogeology, Besançon (France) 1-4 sep. 2011, 483-486, 483-486.
) Praxisorientierter Ansatz zur Kartographischen Darstellung von Karst-Grundwasserressourcen - Erfahrungen aus dem Swisskarst Projekt
Malard Arnauld, Jeannin Pierre-Yves, Sinreich Michael, Weber Eric, Vouillamoz Jonathan, Eichenberger Urs, ) Praxisorientierter Ansatz zur Kartographischen Darstellung von Karst-Grundwasserressourcen - Erfahrungen aus dem Swisskarst Projekt, in Grundwasser – Zeitschrift der Fachsektion Hydrogeologie.
Karst hydrogeology
Jeannin Pierre-Yves, Karst hydrogeology, in Saied Eslamian editor (ed.), CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group , Boca Raton, Florida, 379-406.
KARSYS: a pragmatic approach to karst hydrogeological system conceptualisation. Assessment of groundwater reserves and resources in Switzerland
Jeannin Pierre Yves, Eichenberger Urs, Sinreich Michael, Vouillamoz Jonathan, Malard Arnauld, Weber Eric, KARSYS: a pragmatic approach to karst hydrogeological system conceptualisation. Assessment of groundwater reserves and resources in Switzerland, in Environmental Earth Sciences.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Universität Bern, hydrologic department Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Universidad de Oviedo (Asturias) Spain (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
SAZU (Slovenian Institute for Karst Environments) Slovenia (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Exchange of personnel
Die Versuchsanstalt für Wasserbau, Hydrologie und Glaziologie (VAW) Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
E-dric Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
11th Swiss Geoscience Meeting, Lausanne 2013 Talk given at a conference Geometric and hydrological characterization of karst-system combining KARSYS approach and simulation tools 16.11.2013 Lausanne, Switzerland Malard Arnauld;
GSA's 125th Anniversary Annual Meeting Talk given at a conference Toward a pragmatic mapping of karst hydrology 27.10.2013 Denver, Colorado, United States of America Jeannin Pierre-Yves;
International Symposium on Hierarchical flow systems in Karst Regions “Karstflow” Talk given at a conference Combining 3D geological boundaries and fundamental hydraulic principles (KARSYS) in a 3D/GIS procedure to depict flow-systems in karst regions 05.09.2013 Budapest, Hungary Jeannin Pierre-Yves; Malard Arnauld;
16th International Congress of Speleology Talk given at a conference Documenting Swiss karst aquifers using KARSYS approach – examples of recent applications 23.07.2013 Brno, Czech Republic Jeannin Pierre-Yves;
13th Sinkhole Conference Talk given at a conference Mapping flood related hazard in karst using KARSYS approach. Application to the Beuchire-Creugenat Karst system(JU, Switzerland) 09.05.2013 Carlsbad, New Mexico, United States of America Malard Arnauld;
European Geomodeller User Meeting Talk given at a conference KARSYS – an original approach for documenting karst aquifers in Switzerland. SWISSKARST Project 13.03.2013 (BRGM) Orléans, France Malard Arnauld;
10th Swiss Geoscience Meeting, Bern 2012 Talk given at a conference Swisskarst Project – toward a sustainable management of karst water in Switzerland. Application to the Bernese Jura 16.11.2012 Bern, Switzerland Malard Arnauld;
13th Swiss National Congress of Speleology - EuroSpeleo Forum 2012 Talk given at a conference Swisskarst Project – toward a sustainable management of karst water in Switzerland. Application to the Bernese Jura 29.09.2012 Muotathal, Switzerland Malard Arnauld; Weber Eric;
Workshop Klimaänderung und deren Auswirkungen auf die Grundwasserressourcen Talk given at a conference Karst 11.05.2012 Solothurn (Switzerland), Switzerland Jeannin Pierre-Yves;
(EGU) General Assembly 2012 Talk given at a conference How to document the karst aquifers in Switzerland using the KARSYS approach 22.04.2012 Vienna, Austria Malard Arnauld;
Rencontre d'Hiver de la Société Suisse de Spéléologie Talk given at a conference SWISSKARST Project  Toward a sustainable management of karst waters in Switzerland 04.02.2012 Bern, Switzerland Malard Arnauld;
9th Swiss Geoscience Meeting Talk given at a conference SWISSKARST Project  Toward a sustainable management of karst waters in Switzerland 11.11.2011 Zurich, Schweiz , Switzerland Malard Arnauld; Eichenberger Urs;
H2Karst, 9th Conference on Limestone Hydrogeology, Talk given at a conference Karst system characterization (KARSYS) : a methodology for approaching the hydrogeology of karst systems 01.09.2011 Besançon, France, France Malard Arnauld; Jeannin Pierre-Yves;


Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Grundwasser und Energie im Karst Talk 04.05.2013 Luzern, Switzerland Jeannin Pierre-Yves;
Bauen im Karst Talk 17.11.2012 Hayingen, Germany Jeannin Pierre-Yves;
workshop FOEN: Early Identification of Hydrological research in Switzerland Workshop 24.11.2011 Olten, Schweiz, Switzerland Jeannin Pierre-Yves;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Swisskarst project (NRP61);comprendre et documenter les systèmes karstiques de Suisse Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2013
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Characterisation of karst aquifers in Switzerland: the KARSYS approach International 2013
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Swisskarst: aquifères karstiques de Suisse German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland 2013
Print (books, brochures, leaflets) Swisskarst: Management of Karst Water in Switzerland International 2013
Media relations: print media, online media Interview Pierre-Yves Jeannin: "Améliorer la gestion des ressources en eau du karst" Aqua & Gas German-speaking Switzerland Western Switzerland 2012
Media relations: radio, television Farbiges Gletscherwasser zeigt Abflüsse "Einstein" SF1 German-speaking Switzerland 2011
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Les eaux karstiques, une ressource hydrique pour le futur? News - Archiv - PNR61 Western Switzerland German-speaking Switzerland 2011
New media (web, blogs, podcasts, news feeds etc.) Site Internet SWISSKARST International Western Switzerland 2010

Awards

Title Year
"Young Karst Researcher Prize" of the Karst Commission of IAH (Karstflow Congress, September 2013 - Budapest). 2013

Abstract

Over about 20% of Switzerland most streams are subterraneous and mainly unknown. Their water catchment areas and main characteristics are unknown too. Those hydrological systems, namely karst, behave in an intermediate way between surface water and groundwater. Being underground karst water is considered as groundwater and represents nearly 50 % of the total groundwater resources in Switzerland and not less than 80 to 90 % of the exploitable reserve (MBN 2008). With about 120 km3 of exploitable groundwater karst represents a volume which can be compared to the total volume of all natural swiss lakes and more than twice that of glaciers (Spreafico & Weingartner 2005). The annual resource is about 6 to 8 km3, from which only a very tiny portion (1 to 3 %) is exploited. Water vulnerability to various kinds of pollutions remains a limit for the exploitation of karst waters as drinking-water supply, although this vulnerability tends to be overestimated (at least over a large part of the year). Assuming a global and adequate management, karst water resources could potentially provide enough water to face drinking water problems through drought periods, such as observed in 2003. On the opposite karst could, under certain conditions, be used to dampen extreme floods. In any case it is primordial to avoid that constructions (e.g. tunnels) enhance the flashy character of flood events in karst regions (e.g. Tunnel Umfahrung Flims, ISSKA 2008).If general characteristics of karst aquifers are "well" known, their regional characterization is poorly documented and it is very difficult to sketch a synthetic overview of this resource at this point. Our Society will have to face many challenges along the next decades and the exploitation of karst waters will not be restricted to drinking water, but will enlarge to hydropower, heat production, irrigation, etc. Considering the significance of karst aquifers (as resource and reserve) in Switzerland, it is hardly possible to think about an integrated and sustainable management of waters in Switzerland without a significant improvement of the documentation of those systems.Therefore, the first step towards a sustainable management of karstwater resources in Switzerland is to characterize karst at a national scale. This is the aim of the proposed project. This includes an inventory including maps establishement and an applied documentation of all the main karstic systems in our country.The method proposed for the NRP 61 encloses 5 steps:1)Inventory and documentation of all major karstic systems in Switzerland. For this work information about karst springs will be analyzed and compared to potential water catchment areas. Preliminary work is already available.2)Geological information about each main aquifer will be collected and synthesized into a 3D geological model describing the geometry of the carbonate aquifer.3)Based on points 1 and 2 the position and the geometry of the karst phreatic zones will be defined in 3D for all major karst systems. The volume of the groundwater reserve as well as the “theoretical” boundaries of the water catchment area will be evaluated and synthesized in maps and 3D-views.4)Data derived from the model will be compared to other hydrogeological available data (discharge rates, tracing experiment, water chemistry, etc.). The geometry of the model will be adjusted if necessary to match the required precision at the considered scale.5)An ID card of every main karst system in Switzerland will be edited. The card will include basic information (see example in the detailed research plan). The content of this card will be adjusted to aims and requirements of other partners of PNR61 and to water agencies (cantons and Bund). It will also consider the following potential users-conflicts or interactions: drinking water supply, hydropower production, artificial snow, irrigation, tourism development, urbanization, thermal exploitation, agriculture, impacts, future evolution. A bibliography enclosing published and unpublished work will be included in each ID card.A series of maps and 3D models covering all major karst systems of Switzerland will result from this part of the project. Some field works will be necessary mainly in order to validate discharge rates estimated from the available literature and to fix some uncertainties. We mainly work wit a GIS tool for the construction of the karst-related database. Links with 3D models will have to be established/developed.Results are expected to be posted on a web-site (www.swisskarst.ch). There will possibly be two levels of access (one for the public and one for administrations).Deliverables of this part of the project will include:•A zoomable map of Switzerland with all main karst springs and their water catchment areas. By clicking on the object a window will open the identity card of each system (see below).•Related maps with the major tracing experiments and typical karst features (swallowholes, poljés, dolines, caves, etc.)•If several karst aquifers are superimposed, a separate map of each with isolines of their basis and top, with indications of the extension of phreatic zones (artesian/free), with the expected major flowpaths, with indications on boundary conditions.•A 3D model of selected systems with the same indications.•An “identity card” of every main karst system in Switzerland with the basic information on this system including at least the following parameters: System name, names of the respective springs, catchment surface area, total minimum discharge, total maximum discharge, total average discharge, the annual outflow (resource), the groundwater volume (reserve), expected heads, regime type, particularities (see also the attached example). All these indicators should be comparable from one system (or aquifer) to another.The documentation issued from the project will also include syntheses on available knowledge about the following aspects: 1)Modelling karst hydrology, including karst-specific characteristics and behaviour. 2)Evaluation of the future hydrologic evolution of karst water resources and of the response of karst systems to extreme events (extreme floods and droughts). 3)Evaluation of the water quality, its suspected evolution, threats and management.Within the framework of the proposed project it will not be possible to cover all these three aspects in great details and for all karst systems in Switzerland. Therefore these aspects should be expanded afterwards and/or in parallel projects (within or outside NRP-61) in order to provide methods and tools specifically dedicated to the management of karst systems.
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