For many years, water protection has been a top priority for the general public, governments and Vattenfall.
In general, we have minimal direct impact on the quality of the water near our facilities. However, because many of our power plants and electricity network transformers are located close to protected water areas, we have a high level of preparedness and are actively taking preventive actions.
Several of our power plants use lake, sea or river water as cooling water. We monitor the discharge and effects of the modified water to minimise its impact on the local environment. In addition, all wastewater is delivered directly to municipal sewage treatment plants or cleaned on-site before being discharged.
We own and operate hydro power plants in Germany, Sweden and Finland. In Germany pumped storage power plants are used to store energy from renewable energy sources. For each hydro power plant, permits regulate how flows are allowed to fluctuate.
In Sweden the fluctuating flow can affect spawning grounds or the fish’s ability to reach them. Vattenfall runs a number of projects to compensate changed river characteristics. We have, e.g. constructed small streams to help the sea trout reproduce where trout spawning grounds have been damaged.
Vattenfall also cultivates trout and salmon – about 2 million fishes are released into the sea and rivers every year. Other measures can be to maintain a minimum flow to ensure a continuous water perimeter. This means that the flow is never allowed to fall below a set minimum level. It can be adjusted over time so that it reflects the variations of the natural flow, but at a lower water level.
Affected areas by withdrawal of water are the open-cast mines in Germany. In 2011, approximately 397 million m3 of groundwater was removed to make fuel extraction possible. We clean this water and add it to the natural water flow of the local watercourses.
To limit the impact of lowering the groundwater when draining the mines, “sealing wall” technology has been developed by Vattenfall. Inflows from watercourses, valley plains or wetlands are sealed off by underground sealing walls on the periphery of the open-cast mine.
Water management in mining areas - Responsible land use
Read more in the Annual report including Sustainability report
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