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L-R: Wiener Wasser Director, Paul Hellmeier, Mayor Michael Ludwig and Climate Councilor Jürgen Czernohorszky toasting the future with water, Source: City of Vienna

A glass to the future: Vienna’s new water strategy aims to meet the demands of 2050

A glass to the future: Vienna’s new water strategy aims to meet the demands of 2050

The water supply process to the city has been climate-neutral since the 19th century

Today, Vienna’s Mayor Michael Ludwig and the city’s Climate Councilor Jürgen Czernohorszky presented the city’s water strategy for the next 30 years, called ‘Wiener Wasser 2050’.

The strategy defines the most important areas of development like the city’s pipe and water tank system, as well as more abstract issues of heat islands and providing citizens with ways to cool off in the summer.

At the same time, Councillor Czernohorszky took the opportunity to double down on the city’s climate commitments. According to him, drinking water is and will continue to be a source of renewable energy, both from drinking water plants and from available space for photovoltaic systems.

Drinking tap water in Vienna is carbon-neutral

Since 1873, Vienna’s drinking water has been flowing into the city through a series of pipes, directly from the Alps. The pipes use the natural elevation of the terrain and the city itself, bringing the water to homes across Vienna through the power of gravity.

This makes the process climate-neutral and, according to Councillor Czernohorszky, drinking tap water is more climate-friendly than drinking bottled water in Vienna. Furthermore, the constant flow of water is also a great opportunity to generate energy. In fact, the city already generates enough energy from drinking water power plants to power the entire Wiener Neustadt district.

At the same time, many of the water tanks holding the city’s reserves have been transformed into green and renewable oases powering hundreds of homes. Jürgen Czernohorszky explained that photovoltaic systems on water tanks are a key aspect of the city’s solar offensive.

Vienna’s water strategy for the next 30 years

To a large extent, Vienna’s water strategy for the next 30 years will not contribute major changes to the current situation. Considering the environmental friendliness of the city’s current set-up and the relative security of the drinking supply, lawmakers have refrained from rocking the boat too much.

The big takeaways are the planned expansions of two water tanks and three new pipes. The city’s current water storage capacity is 1.6 billion litres and the proposed pipes would largely help authorities move water more efficiently in the city.

The gradual expansion of the infrastructure is necessary though, as according to local authorities, the population of Vienna will reach 2.2 million in 2050, which will amount to a 15% increase in water consumption.

Mayor Michael Ludwig was quoted in a press release explaining: “Vienna has been known for its excellent mountain spring water for around 150 years. High water quality is also an essential contribution to the quality of life in our city. A smart city also includes a smart water supply – and that means that we plan ahead for the long term.“

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