Skip to main content

Lake Runstedt – a pit lake for treating polluted water and protecting groundwater

Lake Runstedt (near Merseburg, Germany; area 2.3 km², volume 53x106 m³, max. depth 32.8 m) is an artificial lake resulting from lignite mining. The lower part of the former mine void was filled by industrial wastes consisting mainly of ashes but also containing waste from nitrogen fertilizer production rich in ammonium. Ammonium concentrations exceed 300 mgL-1 in the pore water in the deposited wastes and constitute a threat for the regional groundwater resources. For protecting the groundwater, Lake Runstedt was created by filling the remaining space of the mine void above the waste with water from Saale River. The neighbouring pit lakes are managed in a way that groundwater flows into Lake Runstedt from all directions and that there is no outflow except evaporation. Hypolimnetic aerators provide the hypolimnion with oxygen needed for nitrification and reed was established in the littoral as habitat for denitrification. Since completion of the filling in 2003, the system has worked well as documented by monitoring. Usually, limnologists look at lakes as valuable ecosystems that have to be protected. In case of Lake Runstedt, the lake is used as a reactor. This unusual approach should not be a common preference but considered as exceptional option in applied limnology. The presentation will report on the creation of Lake Runstedt, the results of monitoring and research, and discuss the use of lakes as reactors protecting other compartments of the environment.


Martin Schultze1, Tina Endrulat2, Anne Weber2, Andreas Schroeter3, Petra Wolf4
1Helmholtz Cetre for Environmental Research - UFZ, Germany; 2Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbau-Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH, Germany; 3IHU Gesellschaft für Ingenieur-, Hydro- und Umweltgeologie mbH, Germany; 4FCB Fachbüro für Consulting und Bodenmechanik GmbH, Germany
GeoBerlin 2023