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Fig. 1. The Heinrich dewatering site in Essen. // Bild 1. Der Wasserhaltungsstandort Heinrich in Essen. Photo/Foto: Volker Wiciok/RAG

Planning notification submitted for the approval procedure in the Ruhr subject to an EIA

On 30th September 2020, RAG Aktiengesellschaft, Essen/Germany, submitted the planning notification for the drainage and discharge of mine water in the Ruhr at the three central water pumping sites Robert Müser, Friedlicher Nachbar and Heinrich (Figure 1) to the Mining Authorities of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia.

After the planning notification for the Haus Aden site and thus for the future discharge to the Lippe district was already submitted in the first quarter of this year, the RAG is also seeking a water permit in the Ruhr. In addition, the company is also planning the start of the approval process for the central water pumping site Lohberg this year.

Along the Ruhr the mine water is drained and discharged at the three sites Robert Müser and Friedlicher Nachbar in Bochum, as well as Heinrich in Essen. Mine water which is only slightly mineralised has already been discharged at the discharge points under view for several decades. The amount of the mine water to be discharged is not changing; it will remain at around 25 M m3/a altogether. The company is obtaining authorisation for instead of the previous 60 only 37 M m3 in order to be able to continue to discharge mine water in the case of deviations, such as extreme rainfall.

“The special feature of the water discharge consent for the Ruhr is that we are considering all three sites in one process”, states Project Coordinator Ralf Tinnefeld from the Permit Management Department (V-GM) on the special features of the procedure. This allows a holistic view of the objects of protection to be examined in the environmental impact assessment.

After a review of the planning notification the district government will send it to other public interest bodies such as authorities, associations and municipalities and invite them to the scoping meeting. At this meeting, the content and scope of the documents submitted by RAG in the water law procedure requiring an EIA will be discussed.

Even though the sites are being considered in one process, the application and approval are effected on a local level. “This is important as water rights always only have a limited term and can be cancelled and adapted at any time”, explains Thomas Brambrink, Department Manager for Water Discharge Consent/Monitoring at V-GM. “If this is the case at one site, a location-specific adaptation can be implemented without having to reopen the entire procedure.”

The water law approval procedure for the Ruhr is the next important element in the optimisation of mine water management of the RAG. (RAG/Si.)