The Viennese drinking water authority had a problem with their pipelines. They had designed them to work using the power of gravity over their hundreds of kilometers of pipework. The water would run freely from the high mountain springs, through tunnels and across aqueducts to the city. However due to the reduction in elevation the water pressure was too high; energy needed to be removed from the water. The solution was to use the drinking water to power small scale hydro electric power stations, named Trinkwasserkraftwerk in German.
Vienna Water now runs 12 power stations, generating enough electricity to power 20,000 homes whilst solving the problem of excessive water pressure in the system. The remote settlement of Hinternaßwald marks the end of 10 km of tunnels that connected to the seven springs of the Karlgrabenquelle that would often produce 300 l of water per second. At the end of these tunnels they joined the second Wiener Hochquellenleitung. Due to the 80m drop in elevation over the course of the tunnel and the resulting velocity of the water within it, a power station was built in 1951 to reduce the pressure. Because of Hinternaßwald ‘s remoteness it had not been connected to the Austrian national grid, and to this day their only power comes from the Trinkwasserkraftwerk.
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The control interface of the small scale drinking water hydro-electric plant