Field Trip

Forest management and drinking water in Vienna

24 September 2016

Vienna finds itself in the unique situation of covering almost all of its drinking water demand from mountain springs. Practically throughout the year, the Viennese population is supplied with spring water from the Northern Calcareous Alps in Lower Austria and Styria. Since 1864, with the construction of the First Vienna Spring Water Main, the City of Vienna has constantly invested in the sustainable management of the forests in the region. The main aim was, and still is, to secure adequate drinking water supply for its inhabitants. The Second Vienna Spring Water Main was inaugurated in December 1910. The water reaches Vienna without any pump through galleries by exploiting the natural drop resulting from the difference in altitude. The gravitational energy is even further utilized along the course of the pipeline to generate electricity. Due to extensive spring protection, both spring zones together cover around 675 square kilometres, the water needs no additional treatment.

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The City of Vienna owns and manages an area of about 33.000 ha in the watersheds of the First and the Second Spring Water Mains. About half of the protection and conservation area is covered by production forest. In managing the spring protection forests, special attention is paid to low-impact, natural methods. This means that the forest stock may not be modified to any larger extent, as forests can offer particular protection to spring zones only if anthropogenic intervention is kept at a minimum. Stability and functionality of the water protection forests are at risk due to climate change and various other disturbing factors.

The field trip will provide participants insights to the historic development of the spring protection forests and key challenges which forest management needs to address. The field trip is hosted by Werner Fleck and Bernhard Mang from the Forestry Office of City of Vienna. Recommended clothing for the field trip: warm clothes, rain jacket and hiking shoes.

A tentative timetable for the excursion is:

8:15           Participants arrive to the departure point: University of Natural Resources and Life
                  Sciences, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences (BOKU), Guttenberghaus,
                  Feistmantelstrasse 4 
8:30           Departure from the meeting point
10:15         Cable car to the Rax plateau
10:30         Guided walk by representatives of City of Vienna
12:15         Cable car to valley
12:45         Lunch
14:00         Departure
15:30         Arrival to the Annual Conference Venue (University of Natural Resources and
                  Life Sciences, Department of Forest and Soil Sciences (BOKU), Guttenberghaus,
                  Feistmantelstrasse 4)