Monitoring the effects on the water balance of the Garzweiler open pit mine: concepts, methods and experience

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Courtesy of IWA Publishing

In western Germany brown coal is extracted in large open pit mines causing a vast groundwater depression. To reduce the negative effects an extensive program of re-infiltration has been established. Based on guidelines for mining at the Garzweiler open pit mine a specific monitoring program of spatial surveillance, control and assessment of relevant hydrological and ecological parameters has been set up. Serving as an early-warning system, monitoring enables prompt recognition of negative developments and reduces the risk of damage to the water supply, to the waters and wetlands. Ten years of experience has shown that such a monitoring program provides a suitable and effective means of dealing with complex, long term water management issues. The involvement of stable institutions equipped with the necessary expertise, regular participation of all stakeholders and communication with decision makers and the public are seen as the important criteria for success.

Keywords: geostatistics, groundwater model, infiltration, monitoring, open pit mine, wetlands

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