The City of Stuttgart has a long history of heavy industrial activities associated with the strong automotive and other manufacturing that occurs in the region. Poor management of industrial chemicals, such as chlorinated hydrocarbons used in degreasing processes, has contaminated the underlying aquifers in the region. The contamination issues are exacerbated by the complex geology of the region, including a number of fracture rock aquifers, as well as the importance of the groundwater for filling mineral pools - a sensitive receptor.
While remediation of this contamination has been occurring for over 30 years the MAGPlan project represents an integrated approach to managing clean-up efforts in the City of Stuttgart. The ability of so many different stakeholders to work together is indeed impressive, however to myself, as well as environmental managers from elsewhere in Germany, the integrated management plan seemed be particularly successful due strong investment from the city/state authorities and the EU. From what I understood, these public organisations took on much of the liability for the contaminated sites with this approach. This meant they can control the process much more stringently (hence, 'Integrated Management Plan') but this approach might not be possible in other situations where 'polluter pays' applies. Where clean-up is undertaken and funded by individual polluters with (possibly) different environmental consultancies it is much more likely that conflicts between remediation strategies will occur. Without either strong oversight from an overarching body, such as a local/state authority, the integrated management methodology presented by MAGPlan would be difficult to implement. A strong legal or financial instrument would likely necessary for this integrated contaminated land management approach to be practical in other jurisdictions in Germany, the EU and other parts of the world.
The conference was a worthwhile experience for a number of reasons: I appreciated the application of the many principles and methods that I have learnt during my MSc and PhD research to an important real-world problem. The conference also gave insight into how environmental issues are managed within Germany and in the wider EU context. The opportunity to network with people influential in the environmental sector, both public and private, was also beneficial. Other participants from the University of Tübingen included Prof. Stefan Haderlein and Dr. Carsten Leven, as well as Anneli Schöniger and Adrian Karrais, who attended in association with their employer BoSS-Consult.