This is not what the researchers had in mind. "Actually, the kodeltalsperre was selected as a reference water from which it was hoped that nothing would be found.", recalls gabriele trommer, who works as a water biologist at the kronach water management office. It has been almost four years since animal ecologists from the university of bayreuth took samples from four bavarian rivers and five lakes as part of a research assignment from the bavarian environmental administration. Their goal: to find out whether microplastics (plastic particles smaller than five millimeters) can be detected in the water. Is it. In all!
Although detailed results are now available for the rivers (you can download the study as a PDF file here), they are not yet available for the lakes – and therefore not for the mauthaus drinking water dam, as the kodel dam is officially called. "Here the investigations are not yet completely finished, and the results must still be validated", a press spokesman for the bavarian state office for environmental protection (lfu) explains. It is planned to present the results in a "lake report" towards the end of the year to be published.
A rough life
Gabriele trommler is already eager to read what will be in it then. So far, they only know that samples have been taken. But if the result is similar to the river report, she and her colleagues can breathe a sigh of relief. The bavarian waters are by no means as polluted as the seas. There is about as much plastic floating in the rivers as would be left if a bathtub were first cleaned with a plastic sponge and then a bath were run in it. "But it is unfortunately no longer unusual for microparticles to be detected in water", woman trommer.
First trailer of "bully herbig's new film: this is how nordhalben looks on the big screen
the particles enter the sewage as abrasion from clothes or plastic dishes, but they cannot be broken down by the purification plants. "Because plastic has a life span of hundreds of years", explains the water biologist. "A cycle of clear equipment is not enough by far."
Birds are also involved in ensuring that the particles, some of which are only a few micrometers coarse, end up in the water. "They pick up the plastic material from somewhere, and their leftovers already contain microplastics." Because the reservoir is located in a rough water protection area that is predominantly surrounded by forest, markus rauh, association director of the fernwasserversorgung oberfranken (upper franconia long-distance water supply), assumes that the values determined at nordhalben are "significantly below those of the other sites" will fail. "If particles were to enter the lake, it would be primarily through the air."
However, the lfu spokesman emphasizes that the study, which has yet to be completed, cannot be used to draw conclusions about the drinking water that o draws from the kodeltalsperre. To ensure consistent water temperature and quality, O takes the drinking water from a great depth, rauh explains. And if there are still plastic particles there, they will stick to the second filter at the latest.
History: read here how a worker experienced the construction of the kodel dam
the expert from the water management office is convinced of this too. "Because of the filters, microplastics have no effect on drinking water!", says trommer. It has the same coarseness as the suspended matter that is filtered out of drinking water by default and thus simply remains in the filters – just like the plankton organisms that occur in the water of the kodel dam. "We examine them every year, and so far we have not noticed any change."
What is the difference between macro- and microplastic, how many tons of plastic parts are floating in the world's oceans as well as a comment from our editor you can read here in our premium section infrankenplus (free for subscribers).
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