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Brines, curative and thermal water

The information given in the following chapter about brines, curative and thermal waters refers to the obligatory regulations in 2011. Since 1 January 2012 the new Act of 9 June 2011 Geological and Mining Law (Official Journal 2011, No. 163, item 981) has been legislated. According to this Act, groundwater are considered as brines, curative or thermal waters only on the basis of their specific physical and chemical properties. There is no authorization for the Council of Ministers to specify in the separate ordinance, the particular (named) deposits of groundwater classified as brines, curative and thermal waters.

In the terms of the Act of 4 February 1994 Geological and Mining Law (Official Journal 2005, No. 228, item 1947, with subsequent amendments), according to article 5 section 4, brines curative and thermal waters were minerals. This was due to their special advantages: their mineralization, physical and chemical properties, quantity and conditions of occurrence. In article 5, section 5 and 6, the Council of Ministers were authorized to specify by way of an ordinance the groundwater deposits classified as brines, curative and thermal waters.

According to 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) only one deposit is classified as brine and 72 deposits are classified as curative waters. All waters of any geological unit, having the temperature of 20oC at the outflow, are classified as thermal waters, excluding drainage waters from mining areas.

Brine: groundwater with total solid dissolved minerals at least 35 g/dm3. According to the Ordinance of the Council of Ministers 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. According to the Ordinance of the Council of Ministers dated on 14.02.2006 r. curative water was considered as 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 (250-999 mg/dm3 carbonic acid waters, ≥ 1,000 mg/dm3 carbonated water),

and occurring as deposits in the area of 72 health resorts and towns, mentioned in the Ordinance of the Council of Ministers. Curative waters were also all carbonic acid waters and carbonated waters of other deposits not mentioned in the above mentioned ordinance.

Most of curative waters occur in health resorts and 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 balneologic and bottling purposes (i.e. Krynica-Zdrój, Muszyna, Piwniczna-Zdrój, Wysowa, Polanica-Zdrój, Busko-Zdrój) but also for salt, lye and mud production (i.e. Ciechocinek, Dębowiec, Iwonicz-Zdrój).

Mineralised and specific groundwater (with total solid dissolved minerals over 1 000 mg/dm3, Hydrogeological Dictionary, 2002), 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 diversity of geological and hydrogeological conditions. The following types are distinguished:

  • strongly mineralised chloride waters, mainly of Cl-Na, (J) type,
  • bicarbonate waters, mainly of HCO3-Ca-(Mg), (Fe) type
  • specific waters waters of various mineralization: Fe, F, J, S, H2SiO3, Rn, CO2 , thermal.

Fig. 1 Occurrence of particular chemical types of curative and mineralised waters (Paczyński, 2002; simplified)

Thermal water: groundwater in all geological units having the temperature of 20oC at the outflow, excluding drainage waters from mining areas.

Thermal waters in Poland occur in the area of Polish Lowlands, in Carpathians and Sudetes (fig. 2).

Fig. 2 Occurrence of thermal waters in Poland (Płochniewski, 1994; simplified with additions)

In the area of Polish Lowlands, thermal waters from Lower Cretaceous and Lower Jurrasic formations are the most perspective for use. They occur in widespread hydrogeological basins (covered structures). In Carpathians thermal waters occur in Cretaceous, Paleogene and Neogene formations and also in Triassic deposits of Podhale Trough, which is characterized by small area and strong tectonic influence (i.e. Bańska, Biały Dunajec, Białka Tatrzańska, Bukowina Tatrzańska). 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 (Cieplice Śląskie-Zdrój). Thermal waters are also in Lądek-Zdrój, Duszniki-Zdrój and Grabin in the vicinity of Niemodlin. Thermal waters are used for heating, relaxation and balneologic purposes.

The presented balance for the year 2011 includes the data about disposable resources and reserves, the amount of brines, curative and thermal waters output. The balance sheet comprises these deposits which are registered in MIDAS Bank HYDRO MINERALNE databases. The balance was worked out on the basis of users’ reports collected by Polish Geological Institute-National Research Institute up to the date of 31.03.2012. 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 2011 reserves of groundwater classified as minerals were calculated as 4 225.31 m3/h in 89 deposits. The reserves of thermal waters were 2 545.70 m3/h, curative waters – 1 675.91 m3/h and brines 3.70 m3/h. In the analyzed period the Minister of the Environment approved the following hydrogeological reports for reserves determination of thermal and curative waters:

  • “Hydrogeological documentation for reserves determination for curative waters from Paleogene deposits in substitute P-1 A intake in Muszyna” (in polish);
    The documentation determines the reserves of a new P-1 A curative waters intake in Muszyna as a substitute intake for liquidated P-1 one.
  • “Hydrogeological documentation for reserves determination for curative waters from Paleogene deposits in P-16 intake in Piwniczna-Zdrój” (in polish);
    The documentation determines the reserves of a new P-16 curative waters intake in Piwniczna-Zdrój.
  • 3. „Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for reserves determination of Polańczyk IG-2 curative waters intake in Polańczyk ” (in polish);
    Annex to documentation determines the reserves for a new groundwater intake of curative waters in Polańczyk.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for reserves determination for no. 4 curative water intake in Wojkowa (Stupne Stream Valley)” (in polish);
    The documentation determines the reserves for a new curative waters intake in Wojkowa, Muszyna commune.
  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for reserves determination for Poddębice GT-2 thermal waters intake” (in polish);
    The documentation determines the reserves for a new thermal waters intake in Poddębice (not documented before)

In 2011 the Ministry of the Environment approved one hydrogeological documentation for disposable resources determination:

  • ”Hydrogeological documentation for disposable resources determination of curative waters and potentially curative ones of Kłodzko Region and the area of Jelenia Góra.” (in polish).
    This documentation determines disposable and renewable resources of curative waters and potentially curative ones in Sudetes area, according to data from September 2008.

The amount of brines, curative and thermal waters intake in 2011 was calculated on 8 062 837.26 m3/year. In comparison to the previous year it has decreased of about 81 776.51 m3.

Notice: in case of springs and artesian flows, only amount of used waters is given, not total amount of outflowing water (this refers to: Swoszowice, Krzeszowice, Wapienne deposits).

Prepared by: L. Skrzypczyk, J. Sokołowski