Municipality Department 31 - Wiener Wasser

Drinking water company usually covers a part or whole water cycle of a city. In the case of Vienna, Wiener Wasser covers the whole water cycle with 100% spring water from the Lower Austrian-Styrian Alps. Wiener Wasser is a part of the municipal department in Vienna responsible for clean water supply, maintain and control the quality of the water and pipelines, manage public sewage systems, wastewater treatment, and education around drinking water.

Another public drinking company owned by the municipality such as Waternet in Amsterdam also covers similar responsibility to supply clean water and collection of wastewaters. While in another Dutch regions such as Delft, have Evides Waterbedrijf to manage their drinking water supply and Delfluent to manage sewers and wastewater treatment.

In London, a similar service is provided by a private drinking company called Thames Water. Thames Water is responsible for the public water supply and wastewater treatment in most of Greater London. The company has been through several takeovers by companies such as RWE (German utility company) and Kemble Water Holdings Ltd (Consortium).

Another type of drinking water service could be provided by the partnership between the public and private companies. For instance, Jakarta drinking water is being distributed by private companies in form of a 25-year concession agreement, in which both private companies (Palyja and Aetra) have to achieve universal service coverage and a reduction of water losses to 20 percent at the end of the concession period. (initially 46% and 61% respectively in 1998). Also, the municipality or government normally will have to buy all the shares from private companies at the end of the concession period.

In 2019, the Austrian Parliament passed a law enshrining the protection of drinking water resources in the Austrian constitution. Water privatization in Austria is thus henceforth unconstitutional.

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Cycle of water diagram ; various logo of water company

Sources: Waternet. “Who We Are.” Wereld Waternet. Accessed May 2, 2021.
  1. “Water Privatization.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, March 12, 2021.
  2. “Wiener Wasser.” zur Startseite der Stadt Wien, March 16, 2021.
  3. Waternet. “Our Service Area.” Waternet. Accessed May 2, 2021.
  4. “Water Privatisation in Jakarta.” Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, March 14, 2021.

Fischer Landfill

The atlas of the contaminated sites is to provide maps that illustrate the areas of waste deposits or subsurface contamination that threaten either the human health or the environment. Contaminated areas are mapped and listed with their unique ID, priority, status, area, and location. The question now arises: could the contamination be restricted to a limited circumscribed area?

The example of Fischer-Deponie - ID:72143, an area located in the agricultural area of Theresienfeld suggest a paradigm of subsurface contamination but also of groundwater contamination. The landfill was created from a gravel pit in the well drained-bed of the Mitterndorfer Senke, one of the largest reservoirs in Central Europe. However, around 550,000 cubic meters of various types of waste were deposited in an area of around 70,000 square meters without any measures to protect the groundwater. In 1972 the Waxina company deposited poisonous barrels and the latter tenant Johann Fischer, industrial and commercial waste. The operations were taking place from 1972 until 1987, when the authorities managed to enforce the final closure and rehabilitation of the landfill.

Groundwater investigations revealed significantly higher levels of chlorinated hydrocarbons (especially 1,1,1-trichloroethane and trichloroethene) and aromatic hydrocarbons. The massive contamination of the groundwater affected a groundwater body that plays a vital role in the drinking water supply in Easte Austria. Thus, a row of barrage wells was built to treat the extracted groundwater.

The subsoil in the area of the contaminated site is made up of well-drained, Quaternary gravel, which is partially solidified. In the depth of 20 to 25 m, there is a slightly permeable, fine-grained sediment layer, a low-permeability intermediate layer. The groundwater, over the entire length of the dump flows over this layer. The groundwater in the immediate outflow is collected by means of a barrier well and, after cleaning, is drained away again further downstream. A waterworks upstream of the Fischer landfill has been partially shut down due to the supra-regional pollution of the groundwater. The former old deposit is currently not in use.

As a result of the pollution that has already occurred, water supply systems in the area of the Mitterndorfer Basin had to be abandoned. The Fischer landfill, as one of the causes of groundwater pollution, posed an acute threat to a groundwater resource of supraregional importance. The old deposit posed a significant threat to the environment and was to be assessed as a contaminated site in the sense of the ALSAG.

In 2007, after procedures of redevelopment and renovation by the company BALSA GmbH, the Fischer landfill assessed renovated since the remediation foals have been fully achieved and that there are no longer any significant effects on the protected groundwater from the former Fischer landfill and are not expected in the future.

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The atlas of the contaminated sites illustrating the location of Fischer Landfill and the tab of its information.



A program dedicated to taking on extremely costly clean up projects resulting from past uses.

The Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liabilities Act of 1980 (CERCLA) was passed by the US federal government to investigate and clean up areas that were contaminated with hazardous substances. The Environmental Protection Agency is in charge of this “Superfund” named by the astronomical costs of cleaning up these sites. Out of 40,000 identified sites federally, 1,600 of them are on the National Priorities List that generally require long-term attention called remedial actions. The ones that require short-term attention are referred to as removal actions.

First, the Superfund tries to bring human exposure to these hazardous substances under control by removal of the contamination as well as through monitoring and control of the area use. For example, by implementing groundwater use restrictions. Once the site is under control, the Superfund then tries to open the site back up by bringing new uses there through redevelopment.

In order to achieve this, the Superfund is in charge of finding the potentially responsible parties. Legally, they have established that the seller of a contaminated site is still responsible for the clean up and that this liability is not something that can be passed onto the buyer. In cases where a potentially responsible party cannot be identified, they receive government funds from taxes which until 1995 was applied to oil companies.

When placing the signs to alert the community around the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, NY, of the work being done, the New York State Department of Health was in charge of the project and interfacing with the Gowanus Canal Community Advisory Group. The sign had three drafts before being approved by vote, with one of the changes including a change from “NO BOATING” to “CAUTION WHILE BOATING!” for a group of local recreational canoers.

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Warning sign development with community input for the Gowanus Canal in 2018

Sources: xx

Pushing Water Uphill / Machine de Marly

“It does not seem that one has ever completed a machine that has made as much noise in the world as that of Marly..." -  Bernard Belidor , Architecture Hydraulique, 1737

When King Louis XIV chose Versailles as the site of his palace he had a problem, it was at the top of a hill with no natural supply of water. The grandeur of the gardens was dependent on fountains and this required an enormous capacity of water. The solution was to pump the water from the Seine, however the water was 10 km away, and 150m below the level of the gardens. To solve this in 1682 the Machine de Marly was built. This behemoth pumped water from the Seine, 700m up the hill into the Louveciennes aqueduct, just above the level of the gardens. From there it could run downhill into the palace reservoirs.

The pump was one of the most ambitious projects of the 17thC, built almost 200 years before the height of the industrial revolution. Walloonian miners, experienced in removing water from the deep coal pits, were brought in to create the pump. 1800 workers built the system and in modern currency cost $100 million. Power for the pumps was from the Seine itself with 14 water wheels, each 12m in diameter and 4.5m wide. Due to the limited strength of the leather that made up the pump valves, pressure was not high enough to complete the elevation of the water in one go, leading to construction of two relay stations. These were powered by the water wheels at the hill’s base, with energy transmitted through a flatrod system of rigid oscillating poles.

When the system first became operational it delivered 700hp, pumping 5000m3 of water daily. However this was only 83% of the planned total. It required a constant staff of over 60 plumbers, blacksmiths, woodworkers and engineers to keep running as parts would break constantly due to the enormous forces acting upon it Fires would spontaneously erupt because of the heat in the driveshafts caused by the machine's friction, leading to the construction of an early fire suppression system built into the pumphouse roof.

As the pump aged, its capacity dropped, by 1798 it moved only 640m3 daily, and in 1817, after 133 years of use, it failed and was replaced with a series of more modern machines. Due to its lower than expected capacity it did not provide enough water for the fountains of Versailles, instead its water was used for the fountains of another of Louis XIV’s local places, the Palace de Marly.

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The Machine de Marly

Sources: Nicolas de Fer, Elevation and perspective of the Machine de Marly, c. 1715

Sextus Julius Frontinus

30 - 103 AD

Roman hydraulic engineer, politician and author of technical treatises

Sextus Julius Frontinus was appointed the title “Curator Aquarum”, a position in Ancient Rome in order to administer the aqueduct system. He can be referred to as he Vitruvius of the plumbers, since he is the author of the first known technical treatise. He wrote De aquaeductu urbis Romae, a milestone in two volumes on Roman aqueducts providing valuable information, the first official report of an investigation about engineering works ever to have been published.

Below is an example of his description on Ajutage quinaria, a tube through which water is discharged; an efflux tube; as, the ajutage of a fountain.

“Those who refer it to Vitruvius and the plumbers, declare that it was so named from the fact that a flat sheet of lead 5 digits wide, made up into a round pipe, forms this ajutage. But this is indefinite, because the plate, when made up into a round shape, will be extended on the exterior surface and contracted on the interior surface. The most probable explanation is that the quinaria received its name from having a diameter of 5⁄4 of a digit, a standard which holds in the following ajutages also up to the 20‑pipe, the diameter of each pipe increasing by the addition of ¼ of a digit. For example the 6‑pipe is six quarters in diameter, a 7‑pipe seven quarters, and so on by a uniform increase up to a 20‑pipe.”1

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