Science

Vienna, the capital where water flows from the source – Sciences et Avenir

Clean air, picturesque waterfalls and green forests: the water flowing in abundance from the taps of Vienna finds its source in the heart of the Alps, in a preserved environment that is the pride of the inhabitants of the Austrian capital.

As a drought wreaks havoc across Europe, a city of almost two million stands out. It does not foresee any rationing in the coming decades, and for good reason: it has a jealously guarded treasure.

To open it, you need to get lost in the southeast of this central European country, in the mountains at a distance of about 150 kilometers.

In the regions of Lower Austria and Styria, almost a century and a half ago, the metropolis acquired a protected area of ​​​​675 square kilometers without agriculture, tourism and industry.

In times of global warming, this wealth has become invaluable: 70 sources of crystal clearness are plentiful, far from soil pollution, in a territory of wild beauty that is closed to the public.

– “Agape” –

“About 10,000 liters flow out per second, and we take 560 for Vienna,” explains security guard Johannes Zöchling, “very proud” of watching the most important of them in a stream called Klaffer, discovered at an altitude of 655 meters above sea level .

He comes to throw himself into a river called Saltsa, which curls up in a deep valley, completely uninhabited.

A 90-meter tunnel dug into the rock leads to a majestic underground spring with water at a temperature of less than six degrees, which, after minimal treatment, will flow directly into the houses in about 36 hours.

The original transportation system, consisting entirely of 130 aqueducts, was created during the Austro-Hungarian Empire to fight cholera.

“And all this without a single pump and without the slightest emission of CO2,” says Astrid Rompolt, spokesman for the municipal water company Wiener Wasser.

The fluid “flows by natural slope”, which was a feat for the time, and even generates “a little hydraulic power”.

“I remember how the Chinese officials came to see it and were speechless,” she smiles, pointing to one of the 31 Côte d’Azur reservoirs scattered throughout the city, over which European hamsters frolic on their way to extinction.

At the other end of the pipeline, the people of Vienna are well aware of their comfort: this exceptional offer offers them unbeatable value for money.

Each of them consumes 130 liters of tap water per day – the European average – for less than 30 cents compared to 45 cents, for example, in Paris.

– Fountains and pools –

Stop fueling fountains, pools and automatic watering without remorse, while limiting the use of plastic bottles.

While the relentless sun sets in the hot hours on the treeless avenues of the city center, citizens and tourists can use 1,300 drinking water fountains and 175 gentlemen for free.

Kids have fun on the water playgrounds with artificial ponds and large lawns.

It is one of the elements for which Vienna has received several awards for its high quality of life according to international rankings, such as the Economist Intelligence Unit’s ranking, which again placed the city at the top of the pedestal. globally this year.

“There is no question of privatizing this service of general interest,” says environmental assistant Jurgen Chernogorsky. “On the contrary, we are investing a lot of money in future generations.”

A 2050 strategy has been adopted to adapt the growing city to the sultry summer. Vienna forecasts a 15% increase in consumption and thus renews 30 kilometers of pipeline per year.

Access to drinking water has even been guaranteed by the Constitution since 2001, which is unique in the world, the municipality boasts on its website.

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