Digital Water Book
Topic of the practice
A web-based information system for water management, water protection and monitoring of flood zones
Good Practice Information
A Good Practice of the Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (LfULG) is the Digital Water Book (www.wasserbuch.sachsen.de). The Digital Water Book is based on the water books of the Saxon main catchments. These water books contain the existing water rights associated with the water bodies in Saxony. The linkage of this information to aerial images gives a good and quick overview of the local conditions. Since this is a free web tool, qualified water management information is generally accessible, for governmental institutions as well as for citizens and non-governmental organisations. All persons or parties interested can obtain online information e.g. on water rights, surface waters, groundwater, drinking water protection areas and flood zones. This general transparency in water management measures is the basis for the sustainable management of both groundwater and surface water resources.
The Digital Water Book is a dynamically growing system. It is constantly possible to make new entries or record modifications. Internet provides easy access for the interested public. So the general public is enabled to use the information recorded in the Water Books and gain an understanding of legally required water management measures. The method of making water law-related data publicly available is well transferable. However, the method can be rather complex and require a high input for setting up such a web-based system and for digitising the analog data (depending on the degree of digitisation of the existing water rights and geodata basis). Especially in the 21st century, with the Internet having emerged as one of the most important media, this tool should be used to make specialist data publicly available. This approach is highly recommendable, because surface waters as well as groundwater are very important public goods. Their use and protection are of general public interest.
Evidence of success
The Digital Water Book has proven successful not only in Saxony, but also in other German states. A Digital Water Book is also maintained in Rhineland-Palatinate. There are Digital Water Books also in Austria (Salzburg, Kärnten and Steiermark).
The advantage of this type of information system is to have a geographic overview of water rights. So it is possible to get an idea of how strong the human impact is in certain areas, where protection areas are located and where additional groundwater protection is required. Since the Digital Water Book allows for direct inquiries, it reduces the amount of administrative work otherwise required for answering requests for information addressed to the competent authorities.
Contact details to obtain further information on the practice
Karin Kuhn, Henning Merker, Corina Niemand, Christin Glöckner
Saxon State Office for Environment, Agriculture and Geology (LfULG)
Annex completed on: 02-02-2012