Safe Ruhr – River Swimming and Drinking Water for the Ruhrgebiet

  • Project team:

    Börner, Franziska (project leader); Peter Wiedemann, Ferna Sommer

  • Funding: Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF)
  • Start date:


  • End date:


  • Project partners: IWW Rheinisch-Westfälisches Institut für Wasserforschung gemeinnützige GmbH (IWW Water Research Institute, non-profit); Ruhrverband; RWW Rheinisch-Westfälische Wasserwerksgesellschaft mbH (waterworks company); RWTH Aachen University; Universität Bonn (University of Bonn); Ruhr-Universität Bochum (Ruhr University RUB); University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE); aquatune; Xylem
  • Research group:

    Innovation processes and impacts of technology

Project description

The Ruhr river with its basin serves almost 5 million people as a recreational area and secures the drinking water supply for the Ruhr district.

The achievements in water conservation in recent decades have undoubtedly improved the overall health conditions of the population living in the Ruhr district. Nevertheless, the analytical detection of "new" water contaminants in the Ruhr has caused great concern in wide circles of the population about the quality of their drinking water.

In this environment, for the first time, a comprehensive approach for risk management of Ruhr drinking water quality and of a potential temporary admission to river swimming is going to be developed and implemented.

The Project 'Sichere Ruhr', based on a comprehensive hazard analysis and a risk assessment of the Ruhr water quality,

(a) will develop innovative risk reduction measures and develops and tests a monitoring and early warning system with respect to microbiological hazards for a section of the river in the city of Essen

(b) will develop and test an innovative communication strategy for risk management.

The result will be an integrated approach for safe drinking water and river swimming use of the river Ruhr, transferable to other river basins with drinking water abstraction and currently unregulated river swimming.

ITAS is involved in this project with the work package "risk perception" (AP 3a). The project explores the question of how Germany's population perceives the quality of drinking water and the value rivers or river reservoirs have as a leisure and recreation area. An essential part of this study is the investigation into peoples’ attitudes and beliefs about risk factors associated with drinking water and river swimming.

The work package "risk perception" provides a proactive engagement with the publics' intuitive perception of risk. The aim is to offer an empirical basis for all communication activities of the project, so that evidence-based communication strategies with the public can be developed.

Projekt website:


Franziska Boerner
Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT)
Institute for Technology Assessment and Systems Analysis (ITAS)
P.O. Box 3640
76021 Karlsruhe