20% of the Swiss territory
With a reserve of about 120 km3 (which represents a volume two times bigger than the volume of the swiss glacier or the volume of water of the Swiss lakes) and 6 to 8 km3/year of resources, karst aquifers represent nearly 80% of groundwater reserve in Switzerland and 50% of groundwater resources. Consequently to the Climate change process, adjustments and strengthening of our drinking-water supply system to the extreme events that it causes will be necessary.
Karst is also an environment which covers 20% of the Swiss territory, especially the Jura regions and the Prealps which are densely settled and mastered territories. These environments are frequently intersected by management projects (tunnel, wells, roads, etc.). Impacts on karst systems are often induced and could lead to huge perturbations on the water storage, on their quality or on both.
In contrast, karst specificities could generate geological disorders and threaten lives and anthropic managements (inundation, sinkhole collapse, etc.). The Karst environment should be considered in the frame of the natural hazards investigations.
Karst systems could also be viewed like energy providers. Actual involvement in renewable energy projects (geothermy, hydroelectricity) must be driven efficiently in order to conciliate yield and environmental processes.
In spite of their significance, Swiss karsts and their aquifers are poorly known, as illustrated by the lack of general map and documents describing those systems in a systematic way. Today there are no existing tools or applied approaches usable for a sustainable management of these resources.
Facing the increasing interest from the managers to these resources and these environments for water supply enhancement, territory management or renewable energies, the Swiss Karst Institute for Speleology and Karst research decided to implement the Swisskarst Project to make pragmatic information available on karst to a wide audience.
Thanks to the National Research Program NRP61 support, this project will be conducted at the scale of the country in order to cover most of Swiss karst aquifers.
Karst distribution in Switzerland