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Project 3.04: Impacts of climate change on microbial water quality and their implications for dredged material management in coastal waters

Dr Nicole Brennholt, BfG,
Tel. +49 (0) 261/1306-5928,

Dr Georg Reifferscheid, BfG,
Tel. +49 (0) 261/1306-5176,


The objective of project 3.04 is to demonstrate and evaluate climate-induced changes in microbial water quality in German coastal waters. These are the basis for deriving action recommendations in order to ensure the hygienically safe handling of water, sediments and dredged material in the context of necessary upgrading and maintenance works on waterways. The first adaptation options for the safe utilisation of coastal waters (in terms of transport, fisheries and recreational activities) with respect to climate-induced microbial changes in water quality will be formulated.

In project 3.04, the occurrence and spatial distribution of potential pathogenic micro-organisms in coastal waters and also of those that are surface-bound or particle-bound (in sediment, dredged material and on structures) will be analysed. Additionally, it will be investigated to what extent the expected potential consequences of climate change such as higher average temperatures, regional increases in extreme weather events as well as changes in biotic and abiotic environmental parameters may impact water hygiene.

One of the main aspects to be considered is whether changes in the above mentioned factors favour the survival and/or growth of pathogens and promote their entry into the water body. For instance, an increase in frequency and intensity of storm and flood events may increase the resuspension of sediments and, along with this the remobilisation of micro-organisms which affect hygiene from sediments into the free water phase.

In this project, existing data on microbial water quality will be evaluated and supplemented by our own field studies. The influence of changing environmental parameters on microbes affecting water quality will also be analysed with laboratory tests.

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