Modelling induced bank filtration effects on freshwater ecosystems to ensure sustainable drinking water production

Mikael Gillefalk*, Wolf M. Mooij, Sven Teurlincx, Annette B.G. Janssen, Jan H. Janse, Manqi Chang, Jan Köhler, Sabine Hilt

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)


Induced bank filtration (IBF) is a water abstraction technology using different natural infiltration systems for groundwater recharge, such as river banks and lake shores. It is a cost-effective pre-treatment method for drinking water production used in many regions worldwide, predominantly in urban areas. Until now, research concerning IBF has almost exclusively focussed on the purification efficiency and infiltration capacity. Consequently, knowledge about the effects on source water bodies is lacking. Yet, IBF interrupts groundwater seepage and affects processes in the sediment potentially resulting in adverse effects on lake or river water quality. Securing sufficient source water quality, however, is important for a sustainable drinking water production by IBF. In this study, we analysed the effects of five predicted mechanisms of IBF on shallow lake ecosystems using the dynamic model PCLake: declining CO 2 and nutrient availability, as well as increasing summer water temperatures, sedimentation rates and oxygen penetration into sediments. Shallow lake ecosystems are abundant worldwide and characterised by the occurrence of alternative stable states with either clear water and macrophyte dominance or turbid, phytoplankton-dominated conditions. Our results show that IBF in most scenarios increased phytoplankton abundance and thus had adverse effects on shallow lake water quality. Threshold levels for critical nutrient loading inducing regime shifts from clear to turbid conditions were up to 80% lower with IBF indicating a decreased resilience to eutrophication. The effects were strongest when IBF interrupted the seepage of CO 2 rich groundwater resulting in lower macrophyte growth. IBF could also enhance water quality, but only when interrupting the seepage of groundwater with high nutrient concentrations. Higher summer water temperatures increased the share of cyanobacteria in the phytoplankton community and thus the risk of toxin production. In relative terms, the effects of changing sedimentation rates and oxygen penetration were small. Lake depth and size influenced the effect of IBF on critical nutrient loads, which was strongest in shallower and smaller lakes. Our model results stress the need of a more comprehensive ecosystem perspective including an assessment of IBF effects on threshold levels for regime shifts to prevent high phytoplankton abundance in the source water body and secure a sustainable drinking water supply.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)19-29
JournalWater Research
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019


  • Macrophytes
  • PCLake
  • Phytoplankton
  • Regime shift
  • Shallow lakes
  • Surface water-groundwater interaction


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