The Groundwater section deals with groundwater issues relating to the planning, approval, construction and maintenance of hydraulic structures for the federal waterways. Areas it focuses on include determining the impact of groundwater pressure and groundwater flow on structures and excavations, forecasting and analysing the effect of construction work on groundwater conditions and assessing the stability of dams. Its work ranges from devising and evaluating groundwater exploration methods through to designing and dimensioning excavation pit concepts and groundwater drainage systems and appropriately preserving evidence of the measures taken.

To this end, the section draws up expert reports and advisory statements and consults the Federal Waterways and Shipping Administration (WSV) in all project phases, from the preliminary draft and project approval through to the construction phase. Depending on the involved issues and the available data, the analyses are based on simplified analytical or numerical groundwater flow models of varying complexity (1D / 2D / 3D, steady state / transient, saturated / unsaturated).

One area on which the section’s applied research focuses is investigating the interaction between porous flow and stress-strain behaviour of different soil types, particularly in terms of the danger posed by hydraulic heave. Another key area of research looks at various issues relating to the interaction between surface water and groundwater in inland and coastal waterways. It also leads research projects studying questions about identifying the hydraulic anisotropy of aquifers and the in situ activity of substances in water that are harmful to concrete.