Selbstreinigung urbaner Flusslandschaften bei Basel : Inwertsetzung revitalisierter und naturnaher Auen- und Feuchtgebiete in den Flussebenen von Wiese, Birs und Rhein

Geissbühler, Urs. Selbstreinigung urbaner Flusslandschaften bei Basel : Inwertsetzung revitalisierter und naturnaher Auen- und Feuchtgebiete in den Flussebenen von Wiese, Birs und Rhein. 2007, Doctoral Thesis, University of Basel, Faculty of Science.


Official URL: http://edoc.unibas.ch/diss/DissB_7778

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Capacity of self-purification processes of urban river areas near
Basel (CH). Improvement of rehabilitated and natural-like wetlands
in the ancient river basins of the river Wiese, Birs and Rhine.
Introduction and objectives:
Urban areas are characterized by an enormous human use density. Passing rivers and
their landscapes were subjected and adapted to the human activities. Straightened and
obstructed running waters have today become self-evident nationwide. Since the end of
the 20th century an increased number of projects have been trying to convert these into
natural forms with permitted controlled dynamics (e.g. the rehabilitation of the river
Wiese or BirsVital in the area of Basel). Following a new social consent, priority is
given to recreation use and sustainability. Such rehabilitation projects in urban areas
often encounter different conflicting aims, e.g. between nature conservation and recreation
use, or between striving after improved horizontal and vertical permeability (connectivity)
and the requirements of groundwater protection. The precepts of a sustainable
use advise using the natural self-purification potential within a modern river landscape
management by preferring free running waters. In many cases, this won’t be possible in
urban areas due to the requirement of space as well as the doubts raised by ground-water
protection or involved groups of users. Unfortunately there exist too few studies on rehabilitations
in urban areas aiming at a chemical-physical and social optimization.
The two MGU projects F2.00 and F1.03 in the period 2000-2002 in the Langen Erlen
and 2003-2005 in the Brueglinger Ebene and the Petite Camargue Alsacienne try to
remedy these deficiencies by examining under which premises and boundary conditions
a revival of the natural wetlands and river landscapes would be possible and how the
various requirements for use could be considered. This work focused on the purification
potential of flooded, natural wetlands and shallow lakes and shows the efficiency of such
systems. The results are discussed against the backdrop of the adoption of such landscape
features for the improvement of rehabilitated river landscapes.
Different measuring techniques (according to standardized methods) in different temporal
resolutions are used to quantify the purification performance along the running distance
of natural horizontal filters and for the characterisation of the water quality in the
investigated wetlands. Therefore, in the areas of investigation, monthly samples were
generally taken. The determination of the water quality took place on the one hand directly
in the field (oxygen saturation, oxygen contents, water temperature, pH value, specific electrical conductivity and turbidity) and on the other hand dissolved organic
carbon (DOC) and UV-Absorption at 254 nm (UVA254) as well as cations (K+, Ca2+,
Mg2+) and anions (NH4
+, NO3
-, PO4
3-, SO4
2-, Cl-) were measured in the water laboratory
of the Geographical Institute. The colony-forming units of E.coli and total coliform
germs were determined by means of diaphragm filtration. In the "Hintere Stellimatten"
the sampling turned out somewhat different but always with the intention to document
the changes within the running water.
To investigate the change of the water quality with increasing soil depth in the groundwater
recharge area "Hintere Stellimatten", water samples were taken by means of suction
candles out of different soil depths. Later – in the constructed wetland of the
Brueglinger Ebene – six laterally slit tubing probes divided into three levels were inserted
into the substrate down to the tarred bedrock. They served to collect water samples
to capture the current chemical-physical conditions and the vertical exchange and
conversion processes along the main running distance. The same analytics (with exception
of the microbiology and DOC-analysis) as described above are taken with these
In order to identify the influence of the surface water on the groundwater quality, water
samples were taken (and analyzed in the water laboratory of the Industrial Works of
Basel, IWB) monthly or fortnightly in the groundwater well # 8 (distance 400 m) and # 9
(distance 100 m) near the recharge area "Hintere Stellimatten". Almost the same parameters
as above were chosen.
During the project F2.00 in the "Hintere Stellimatten" in the Langen Erlen area, a procedure
to charge the natural-like ground water recharge and protection area (belonging to
the IWB) with water from the river Wiese (without using energy) was tested. The purification
performance concerning nitrate and ammonium along the running distance of the
natural horizontal filter is being proofed. The reduction rates underlie fluctuations and
for ortho-phosphates it is even more difficult to see clear tendencies. The number of aerobe
mesophilic germs augmented in the recharge area, and E.coli germs consequently
decreased by 25-30 %. Turbidity decreased strikingly (especially after the discharge of a
high water wave with many suspended matter). Nearly one million m3 water of the river
Wiese was discharged in the area, which lead to a surface water/groundwater ratio up to
70 %. In spite of this no problematic changes of the ground water quality in the near
groundwater well # 8 and # 9 occurred during the whole period of discharging. The discharge
of a high water wave with many suspended matter did not change this either.
The artificial water system of the Brueglinger Ebene is divided into an ancient constructed
wetland (PG) followed by a shallow lake (Quellsee, QS). The good purification
performance of the whole system is achieved especially thanks to the lake, while the
contribution of the PG is relatively low:
The first (but low) reduction of the nitrogen compounds occurs in the PG, the effects on
ortho-phosphates are faint. However, the turbidity is clearly reduced in the PG: even in
“clear” water, turbidity falls by almost 50 %, in cloudy water up to 70-80 %. More intensive
processes go off in the Quellsee. As a rule, neither nitrate nor ammonium is in it
during the summer. Ortho-phosphate is reduced all year round (on average 75.4 % from
0.10 to 0.03 mg/L with regard to the water from the river Birs). The mean reduction of
nitrate at the end of the passage through the lake is 77.6 % (15.8 to 3.6 mg/L). The mean
removal rate of E.coli germs in the PG is 15.7 % (from 1855 to 1564 CFU/100mL), in
the Quellsee, however, 92.7 % (to 135 CFU/100mL) with regard to the discharged water
from the river Birs.
The Petite Camargue Alsacienne area belongs to the ancient river floodplain of the river
Rhine and still shows structures of natural water. It was included as a supplement investigation
area in 2005. To preserve this amphibious landscape dynamics are simulated
with specific interventions and a hydrological concept. In these water and flooding areas
metabolic cycling occurs as in natural wetlands. The following shows the (mean)
changes of the most important parameters: in the shallow lake Étang U the concentration
of nitrate is reduced from 6.7 mg/L to 4.9 mg/L (-29.5 %), ortho-phosphate from
0.06 mg/L to 0.03 mg/L (-43.9 %) and the loading of E.coli-bacteria sinks by 91.9 %
(from 675 to 55 CFU/100mL). Turbidity decreases by 72.6 % from 8.2 to 2.3 FNU. In
the larger wetland Grand Marais, the purification performance is even greater: with regard
to the discharged water from the river Rhine, the concentration of nitrate is reduced
from 7.0 mg/L to 3.2 mg/L (-54.8 %) and ortho-phosphate from 0.06 mg/L to 0.01 mg/L
(-78.6 %). The relatively long running distance leads to a decreased loading of E.colibacteria
of 87.7 % (from 475 to 58 CFU/100mL). Turbidity decreases by 31.0 % from
8.2 to 5.7 FNU. The smaller wetland Mare des Tritons shows an almost comparable
potential of self-purification: with regard to the discharged water from the river Rhine,
the concentration of nitrate is reduced from 6.7 mg/L to 3.6 mg/L (-46.7 %) and orthophosphate
from 0.06 mg/L to 0.03 mg/L (-53.0 %). The most efficient reduction of
E.coli-bacteria occurs here, namely by 94.6 % (from 675 to 36 CFU/100mL), whereas
suspended matter is reduced by 83.7 % (turbidity decreases from 8.2 to 1.3 FNU).
As the results of the investigations show, a clear improvement of water quality can be
achieved even in urban river areas by an optimization of self-purification processes. Especially
the loadings of bacteria, nutrients and solid matter can be reduced with a few
measures. This offers a cheap and natural option for artificial groundwater recharging.
Beside this clear improvement of water quality, such wetlands are important for biodiversity
(e.g. variety of niches and ecotopes) and groundwater-protection. At the same
time, these areas serve as a (substitute) habitat for wetlands species and as high-quality
recreation area for urban residents. Rehabilitations of urban river landscapes are to be
endorsed, especially if they facilitate a great connectivity between water and environment with many elements of natural wetlands (e.g. shallow lakes and flooding areas).
There are many interesting rehabilitation possibilities within the river basins of the river
Wiese, Birs and Rhine leading to natural, attractive river landscapes.
Advisors:Leser, Hartmut
Committee Members:Jenni, Leo
Faculties and Departments:05 Faculty of Science > Departement Umweltwissenschaften > Geowissenschaften > Physiogeographie und Umweltwandel (Kuhn)
UniBasel Contributors:Leser, Hartmut
Item Type:Thesis
Thesis Subtype:Doctoral Thesis
Thesis no:7778
Thesis status:Complete
Number of Pages:174
Identification Number:
edoc DOI:
Last Modified:22 Jan 2018 15:50
Deposited On:13 Feb 2009 16:00

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