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Mineral resources of Poland> Rock raw materials and others> Brines, curative and thermal water
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Brines, curative and thermal water

Due to the specific physical and chemical properties of certain groundwaters, the article number 5 of the Act of 9 June 2011 Geological and Mining Law (Official Journal 2019, item 868, uniform text) classifies brines, curative or thermal waters, as opposed to fresh groundwaters, as minerals.

Before the Act of 9 June 2011 Geological and Mining Law was implemented, the number of brines, curative and thermal waters was specified in the Ordinance of 14 February 2006 of the Council of Ministers about groundwater deposits classified as brines, curative and thermal waters and others curative minerals and also about classifying some deposits of common minerals to basic minerals (Official Journal No. 32, item 220, with subsequent amendments). Now after outlawing this ordinance only those brines, curative and thermal waters are minerals which meet the requirements of Geological and Mining Law, wherein according to the Act (article 203 paragraph 1) brines, curative and thermal waters considered as minerals in the light of the previous regulations keep their status.

Brine: groundwater with total solid dissolved minerals at least 35 g/dm3. According to the Ordinance of the Council of Ministers, currently only the deposit in Łapczyca in Małopolskie voivodeship is classified as brine. This brine, occurring in Miocene sandstone formation, is used for therapeutic and bath salt production. Groundwater with similar composition (strongly mineralized waters of Cl-Na or Cl-Na-Ca type) are common in the area of Polish Lowlands. They occur in very deep formations, at depth of some thousand meters.

Curative water: groundwater with no chemical and microbiological contamination, with natural diversity of physical and chemical properties, meeting at least one of the following requirements:

  • total solid dissolved mineral content at least 1,000 mg/dm3,
  • ferrous ion content – at least 10 mg/dm3 (ferruginous waters),
  • fluoride ion content – at least 2 mg/dm3 (fluoride waters),
  • iodine ion content – at least 1 mg/dm3 (iodide waters),
  • bivalent sulphur ion content – at least 1 mg/dm3 (sulphide waters),
  • meta-silicic acid content – at least 70 mg/dm3 (silicic waters),
  • radon content – at least 74 Bq (radon waters),
  • carbon dioxide content – at least 250 mg/dm3 (250-1,000 mg/dm3 carbonic acid waters, ≥1,000 mg/dm3 carbonated water).

Most of curative waters occur in towns of southern Poland, in Sudetes and Carpathian region (together with Carpathian Depression). Over 70% of hearth resorts and towns with curative waters are located in this area. The rest of deposits occur in Western Pomerania and in Polish Lowlands. Curative waters are used mainly for balneotherpy in 41 health resorts and other towns (i.e. Dobrowoda, Las Winiarski, Marusza, Krzeszowice, Wełnin, Latoszyn, Rzeszów, Wieliczka) from 46 deposits and bottling purposes in 22 water bottling plants in Krynica-Zdrój, Muszyna, Piwniczna-Zdrój, Milik, Powroźnik, Zubrzyk, Szczawa, Tylicz, Wysowa-Zdrój, Polanica-Zdrój, Ciechocinek, Rymanów-Zdrój, Szczawnica, Szczawno-Zdrój, Gorzanów, Jeleniów (Kudowa deposit), but also for salt, lye and mud production (i.e. Ciechocinek, Dębowiec, Goczałkowice-Zdrój, Iwonicz-Zdrój, Kołobrzeg, Rabka-Zdrój, Zabłocie) and pharmaceutic preparations (i.e. Busko-Zdrój, Ciechocinek, Goczałkowice-Zdrój, Inowrocław, Iwonicz-Zdrój, Kołobrzeg, Lądek-Zdrój, Latoszyn, Nałęczów, Połczyn-Zdrój, Rabka-Zdrój, Rymanów-Zdrój, Solec-Zdrój, Świnoujście, Uniejów, Ustroń, Wełnin, Wieliczka). In Krynica-Zdroj and Duszniki-Zdroj natural carbon dioxide is obtained from curative waters.

Potentially curative waters, i.e. mineralised (with total solid dissolved minerals over 1,000 mg/dm3) and specific groundwaters, not considered as curative, occur commonly in Poland at various depths, more often deeper than ordinary waters. The variety of chemical composition of these waters (fig. 1) is caused by a diversity of geological and hydrogeological conditions. The following types are distinguished:

  • strongly mineralised chloride waters, mainly of Cl-Na, often J type, thermal
  • medium mineralised, bicarbonate waters, mainly of HCO3-Ca-(Mg), sometimes with Fe and saturated with CO2
  • medium or low mineralised sulphate and sulphide waters,
  • specific waters waters of various mineralization (Fe, F, J, S, H2SiO3, Rn, CO2, thermal).
Fig. 1 Occurrence of particular chemical types of curative and mineralized waters

Thermal water: groundwater having the temperature of 20oC at the outflow. Taking the purpose of exploitation into consideration, the waters for heating and recreation purposes are considered as thermal waters.

Thermal waters in Poland occur in the area of Polish Lowlands within the large reservoirs of regional importance, also in Carpathians and Sudetes where the deposits are mainly small basins (Podhale) or are limited to tectonic zones. (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Occurrence of thermal waters in Poland

In the area of Polish Lowlands, thermal waters from Lower Cretaceous and Lower Jurassic formations are the most perspective for use. They occur in widespread hydrogeological basins. In Carpathians thermal waters occur especially in Cretaceous, Paleogene and Neogene formations and also in Devonian and Triassic deposits of Podhale Trough, which is characterized by small area and strong tectonic influence. In the Carpathians Forehead, thermal waters occur in Cambrian, Devonian, Carboniferous, Jurassic, Cretaceous and Miocene formations. In Sudetes the most perspective formation is Carboniferous aquifer in the vicinity of Jelenia Góra. Strong tectonically involved Carboniferous magmatic and metamorphic rocks are her thermal water collector. Thermal waters are also in Lądek-Zdrój, Duszniki-Zdrój and Grabin in the vicinity of Niemodlin. Thermal waters are used for heating (Podhale 2, Mszczonów, Uniejów I, Pyrzyce, Stargard Szczeciński I, Poddębice, Kleszczów GT-1, Cudzynowice, Karpniki), relaxation (15 aquaparks in Zakopane – 2, Bańska Niżna – 2, Bukowina Tatrzańska, Białka Tatrzańska, Witów, Uniejów – 2, Mszczonów, Poddębice, Poznań, Tarnowo Podgórne, Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój and Lidzbark Warmiński) and fish farming (Trzęsacz).

Waters from mine dewatering are not considered as brines or thermal waters.

The presented balance for the year 2019 includes the data on disposable resources and reserves, the amount of brines, curative and thermal waters output. The balance sheet comprises these deposits which are registered in MIDAS and Bank Wód Podziemnych Zaliczonych do kopalin MINERALNE databases. The balance was worked out on the basis of users’ reports collected by the Polish Geological Institute-National Research Institute in Warsaw. The data was divided not only according to Paczyński and Płochniewski hydrogegological units division (1996; Table 1) but also according to Polish districts division (Table 2).

In 2019 reserves of groundwaters classified as minerals were calculated as 6 625.80 m3/h in 142 deposits. In the analyzed period appropriate marshals of voivodeships approved the following hydrogeological and geological reports for reserves determination of curative and thermal waters or liquidation undeveloped curative water intakes:

  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters by Filip intake in Muszyna”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intake within the Szczawnik-Cechini deposit.
  • ”Annex no. 3 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of sulphide water from Cretaceous deposits in Busko-Zdrój (B-17a intake)”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intake.
  • ”Annex no. 4 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of sulphide water from Cretaceous deposits in Busko-Zdrój (B-16b intake)”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intake.
  • ”Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters in Jelenia Góra-Cieplice”, prepared due the update of mining area borders.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of thermal waters from Lower Cretaceous deposits by Wręcza GT-1 intake”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination within the new deposit.
  • ”Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters from Tertiary deposits in Piwniczna-Zdrój”, prepared due the update of exploitation discharge and exploitation parameters (change of exploitation water level).
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of thermal waters from Lower Cretaceous deposits by Sochaczew GT-1 intake”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination within the new deposit.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters by OB-1 intake in Kraków-Opatkowice”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination within the new deposit.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters by Lusina intake”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination within the new deposit.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters from Cretaceous-Paleogene deposits by SW-2 intake in Sól”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination within the new deposit.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters from Paleogene deposits by Plebania SWR-1 intake in Rajcza”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination within the new deposit.
  • ”Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative water by Anna and Anna II intakes due to new borehole Tadeusz drilled ”, prepared due to exploitation discharge update for existing intakes.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters by W-1, W-2 and W-3 intakes in Wierchomla Wielka”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intakes within the new deposit.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters from Paleogene deposits by no 1 intake in Wierchomla Wielka”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intakes within the new deposit.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of thermal waters by Turek GT-1 intake in Turek”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination within the new deposit.

In the analyzed period only one documentation considering brines was approved, as well as no hydrogeological documentation for disposable resources determination was approved by the Ministry of the Environment:

  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for disposable resources determination of curative waters in Busko-Zdrój and Solec-Zdrój area”.

The amount of brines, curative and thermal waters intake in 2019 was calculated on 13 589 591.94 m3/year. In comparison to the previous year it has increased of about 264 074.05 m3.

The prospective resources of curative water that can be used, calculated as the difference between the value of disposable resources and reserves, are 38 455.37 m3/h and increased by over 70 times compared to 2009*. In the case of brines static resources in the Łapczyca deposit should be considered as prospective resources in the amount of 32 141.19 m3/h**. In the case of thermal water only their energy resources are specified. The prospective exploitation resources of thermal water energy are approximately 9.0-9.1·1018 J per year***).

Notice: in case of springs and artesian flows, only amount of used waters is given, not total amount of outflowing water.

The figure shows changes in resources and intake of brines, curative and thermal water in Poland in the years 1998-2019.


Prepared by: Jakub Sokołowski, Lesław Skrzypczyk

* Sokołowski J., Skrzypczyk L., 2020 - Wody lecznicze (therapeutic water, medicinal water). In: Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r. (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 400-404. PIG-PIB, Warszawa.

** Felter A., 2020 - Solanki (brine). In: Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r. (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 395-399. PIG-PIB, Warszawa.

*** Socha M., Skrzypczyk L., 2020 - Wody termalne (thermal water, geothermal water). In: Bilans perspektywicznych zasobów kopalin Polski wg stanu na 31.12.2018 r. (eds. Szamałek K., Szuflicki M., Mizerski W.): 405-409. PIG-PIB, Warszawa.