City located in the Land of Bavaria and capital of the district of Swabia
Water Management System of Augsburg
Water supply with strict separation of drinking and process water
Location and site
The Water Management System of Augsburg is located in the Bavarian City of Augsburg, Germany. A sustainable system of creative water management evolved in successive phases through the city’s application of innovative hydraulic engineering, demonstrating an exemplary use of water resources over the course of more than seven centuries to the present day.
Augsburg is situated on the northern tip of a glacial gravel deposit formed during the Ice Age that spreads between two Alpine rivers, the Lech and Wertach, as they converge at the mouth of a great drainage basin. This large aquifer formation produces purified groundwater that emerges in a series of springs that feed streams and water canals. The network of canals and watercourses represents an urban water landscape that includes the sources of both spring and river water.
Water and Augsburg’s strategic location at the crossroads of important trade routes in south-central Germany were key foundations of the growth and prosperity of the city, its population, and its status as a flourishing trade metropolis.
Criterion (ii): The Water Management System of Augsburg has generated significant technological innovations, which sustained Augsburg’s leading position as a pioneer in hydraulic engineering. The strict separation between drinking and process water was introduced as early as 1545, long before research into hygiene matters established as a fact that impure water was the reason for many diseases. An international exchange of ideas regarding water supply and water generation evolved which, in turn, inspired local engineers in their drive for innovations many of which were tested and implemented in Augsburg for the first time.
Criterion (iv): The Water Management System of Augsburg illustrates the use of water resources and the production of highly pure water as the basis for the continual growth of a city and its prosperity since the Middle Ages. The architectural and technological monuments preserve successive socio-technical ensembles that are vivid testimony to the City’s urban administration and management of water that brought pre-eminence in two key stages in human history: the water “art” of the Renaissance, and the Industrial Revolution.
- Augsburg was founded in 15 BC by the Romans. Already the Romans built an artificial water supply system consisting of several canals through which water was channeled to the settlement.
- The canal network was mentioned for the first time in the written City Law document in 1276. At least since 1545 drinking and process water have been separated. That enabled a sustainable and social development. On the basis of continuous flow of drinking and river water from the city forest, a comprehensive drinking water supply network arose in Augsburg.
- Augsburg was a Free Imperial City from 1276 to 1803. That means, that the Water Management System was all this time in the ownership of the citizens of Augsburg.
- Augsburg’s water shows its most beautiful artistic face in the three monumental fountains on Maximilian Street. They were built between 1594 and 1602 on the occasion of the 1600th anniversary celebrations of the city and were meant to be expressions of the abundance of water in the city.
- The Industrial Revolution in the 19th century caused the demand for energy to increase steadily. This was remedied by the creation of the first large waterpower plants. Augsburg`s abundance of water became an important locational factor for industries. The city grew to a center for textile and paper production as well as machinery and turbine production and was formerly known as the “Manchester of Germany”.
- For the Olympic Games 1972 in Munich the first artificially created white water course in the world emerged out of the Ice Canal. It was originally designed to keep the free-floating ice from entering the city. European and world championships still take place here on a regular basis.