The global change in climate will exacerbate the situation in many regions of the world that are already struggling with water scarcity. Austria is one of the most water-rich countries, but even here, climate change will have an impact on the quality of the water.
For example, higher temperatures lead to shorter snow and ice cover in winter and, in the case of bodies of water, to a longer period of biological activity. The contribution of pollutants and the general warming of bodies of water lead to a lower, but essential, oxygen supply in deeper water layers. An increase in intensive precipitation in combination with longer dry periods and increased temperature will also reduce water quality and constant supply quantities.
Warm winter is reflected in water hygiene
Drinking water must be of perfect quality 365 days a year - as stipulated by the Drinking Water Ordinance. So far, data from the AQA WasserChecks have shown that domestic wells, for example, tend to have better bacteriological water quality in winter than in summer or after long periods without precipitation. “Warmer average temperatures accelerate the weathering of the soil, which increases the input of organic components. The higher temperatures also result in higher biological activity. That ensures better growth conditions for bacteria and germs, ”explains DI Bruck from AQA the problem, especially in the area of home well owners.
Impurities in drinking water through, for example, lead from house pipes or nickel from fittings are known chemical / physical problems that have a negative impact on water quality. What is less well known is that the drinking water at the point of use in the household can be so bacteriologically contaminated that it has to be classified as "unfit for human consumption". The causes can be varied and changed weather conditions contribute to it.
Corresponding pathogens can settle in water pipes and lead to increased occurrence of faecal or intestinal germs such as Escherichia coli and cause coliforms. These hygienic problems then become visible again and again through stomach and intestinal problems. Pseudomonas aeruginosa are considered harmful to health even with low germ counts, especially in older people and infants. In domestic wells or in underused pipes with standing water, for example in second homes, biofilms in pipes can lead to an increased occurrence of bacteria in drinking water.
Since bacteriologically contaminated water can have a significant impact on health, it should only be used to a limited extent if contamination has been determined. For example, boiling the water is a simple method for short-term disinfection. This is recommended for preparing food and brushing your teeth. For the preparation of food, the water must keep the boiling temperature for at least three minutes (boil in a surging manner). In principle, the water may be used by healthy people for personal hygiene, such as washing hands. However, if there is contamination with Pseudomonas aeruginosa, you should not shower with it. There is a risk of respiratory infections as these bacteria can be inhaled through the finest water droplets. Anyone who wants to obtain certainty about the hygienic quality of the drinking water can contact authorized testing institutes and experts or take a water sample using the bacteriology water check (under www.aqa-online.com) Directly to the laboratory for analysis.