AD4GD/ Pilots

Water Pollution

Comprehensive monitoring of water pollution

Lead: KWB

Environment: Urban and peri-urban

Location: Berlin, Germany

CitSci approach: Dashboard co-creation

Context and challenges

Berlin is considered to be a “green city” as 30% of its total area is covered by green spaces and 6% by water. A large part of this water surface consists of small lakes that are distributed throughout its urban fabric and function as biodiversity hotspots and refuges against heat islands. However, these ecosystems are currently in danger due to rapid urban densification, and climate change, including soil sealing, longer drought periods and low connectivity of blue/green areas. Many of them are also susceptible to degradation due to extreme weather conditions since they highly depend on storm- and groundwater.

According to the European Water Framework Directive, monitoring is not mandatory for lakes smaller than 50 hectares and therefore, very little knowledge is usually available about these water bodies. In consequence, currently there are no automated methods to identify particularly polluted lakes and prioritize actions,which puts these spaces at even greater risk.


Our aim is to improve the health of Berlin’s small lakes by facilitating access to knowledge about their status. To this end, we are developing indices based on water quality, mainly shaped by urban catchment areas, and water availability, largely dependent on soil sealing and drainage systems.

We intent to overcome the current data gaps by combining information from different sources such as measurements via water samples, IoT sensors, Earth Observation or citizen science programs. For that, we are developing AI-based approaches for data validation and mash-up ensuring compliance with the FAIR principles. This will allow the transfer of knowledge from some regularly sampled lakes to other water bodies.

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