Vienna Doctoral Programme Researchers Receive Neptun-Water Award
Cutting edge research on the microbiology of alpine karstic springs conducted by Andreas Farnleitner and Interuniversity Cooperation Centre (ICC) Water & Health has achieved exceptional recognition by winning the 2013 Neptun-Water Award (Water Protection).
The Neptun Water Award is the Austrian Environment and Innovation Award dealing with everything about water. It was founded in 1999 and is awarded every two years. Alpine karstic waters are a prominent drinking water resource. In Austria approximately 50 % of the population are supplied with water from alpine karstic springs. The project - Life Source Alpine Karstic Springs – New Pathways for Comprehensive Understanding, Protection and Management – aimed to establish, for the first time, the basic scientific knowledge of the microbiology of alpine karstic springs. Work took place over more than eight years, and based on the knowledge generated, concepts for resource protection and management were created. One of the many findings has revealed that life in the karstic waters is much more diverse than previously thought. The indigenous microbes (the so called autochthonous microbial endokarst communities – AMEC) are playing a central role in the water quality; they clean the water on its way through the rocks. The knowledge gained is disseminated to water professionals in form of training courses, from where it contributes to national guidelines and specialists´ committees. The new concepts are already implemented by the Vienna Water Works. In total, more than 15 international peer reviewed publications have been published in the frame of the project (see Science Highlight), and additionally, nine diploma and three PhD theses have resulted on the topic.
The award was made on 20th March 2013 to the delight of Vienna Doctoral Programme researchers involved. An excerpt from the Jury’s decision summaries the contribution of the research: “The project is scientifically excellent and has a concrete relevance for implementation – not only in this special case but it can also be transferred to other regions.”