Issues relating to groundwater play a major role in the planning, approval, construction and maintenance of hydraulic structures for Germany’s federal waterways. The BAW is involved in 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, we draw up expert reports and advisory statements and consult the 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 conducted based on simplified analytical or numerical groundwater flow models of varying complexity.

A special focus of our applied research in this area is investigating the interaction between porous flow and stress–strain behaviour of different soil types, particularly in terms of the hazard posed by hydraulic heave. Other key areas for our researchers are issues relating to the interaction between surface water and groundwater in inland and coastal waterways and the in situ activity of substances in the groundwater that are aggressive to concrete.