Impact assessment from salt and potash mining – River Elbe

General information

Client: K+S KALI GmbH
Location: River Elbe; Germany
Project duration: 2010 - 2016
Key characteristics: Potash mining waste water, river length > 90 km, impact of wastewater

Project description

A large potash mining area discharges its waste water into the River Elbe mainly affecting a river reach of about 90 km length. One discharge point needs to be operated and controlled incorporating 2 existing tailings dams. SYDRO was commissioned to evaluate the impact of wastewater discharges from salt and potash mining on water quality and ecology in conjunction with all other impacts on the river network in spatial and temporal distribution. In addition, it supports the process of applying water rights and the monitoring system required for operation and monitoring.


SYDRO was commissioned to establish the river basin model, to perform all calculations, to assess the water quality and to consult all stakeholders about the wastewater management. The software package Talsim-NG developed by SYDRO was used.

SYDRO was responsible for the whole river basin modelling and wastewater impact assessment. It collaborated with specialists from other sectors like ecology and geology. The modelling comprised all hydrological situations and operational release strategies. SYDRO gave advice to the mining company, water authorities and the river basin commissions in terms of water resources management plans and objective in order to meet the goals of the European Water Framework Directive. A comprehensive river basin model, based on the software package Talsim-NG, had to be established including

  • hydrological modelling and crosscutting impact assessment
  • water quality modelling
  • design and implementation of complex operational wastewater management schemes
  • scenario management for different user groups
  • advice on implementation and real-time operation for the mining company
  • design of wastewater infrastructure and retention ponds to cope with extreme flood events and drought conditions
  • evaluation of monitoring concepts and requirements for an operational early warning system
  • support of the mining company in the process of applying for water rights


  • Evaluation of mining wastwater impacts
  • Assessment of water quality and ecosystem
  • Hydrological modeling
  • Monitorig concepts
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