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Brines, curative and thermal water

According to the Act of 9 June 2011 Geological and Mining Law (Official Journal 2015, No. 196, uniform text) brines, curative or thermal waters as opposed to fresh groundwater are considered as minerals on the basis of their specific physical and chemical properties.

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 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 February 2006 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 (250-1,000 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 balneotherapy (baths, inhalations, drinking treatment) and bottling purposes (i.e. Krynica-Zdrój, Muszyna, Piwniczna-Zdrój, Wysowa, Polanica-Zdrój, Busko-Zdrój) but also for salt, lye and mud production and pharmaceutic preparations (i.e. Ciechocinek, Dębowiec, Iwonicz-Zdrój, Rabka-Zdrój).

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 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 mineralised 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 in Cretaceous, Paleogene and Neogene formations and also in 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, Mszczonów, Uniejów, Pyrzyce, Stargard Szczeciński), relaxation (Podhale, Uniejów, Mszczonów, Poznań) and balneologic purposes (Uniejów).

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

The presented balance for the year 2014 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 Wód Podziemnych Zaliczonych do kopalin 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 31.03.2015. The data was divided not only according to Paczyński and Płochniewski hydrogegological units division (1996) (tab. 1) but also according to Polish districts division (tab. 2).

In 2014 reserves of groundwater classified as minerals were calculated as 5,344.98 m3/h in 129 deposits. In the analyzed period the Minister of the Environment and appropriate marshals of voivodeships approved/accepted the following hydrogeological reports for reserves determination of thermal and curative waters:

  • “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters intakes WK-1 from Paleogene deposits in Muszyna” prepared due to exploitation discharge determination of not used intake within the existing deposit.
  • „Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of Lipa-Zdrój-1curative waters intake from Tertiary (Tortonian) deposits in Lipa”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new deposit with no previous record.
  • „Annex no. 2 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters intakes IN-1, IN-2 and IN-3 I Muszyna”, prepared due to replacement intake IN-2bis preparation in a place of liquidated borehole, which has not been used for years.
  • “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters intake Gustaw from Jurrasic deposits in Kołobrzeg”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intake within existing deposit.
  • „Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters intakes M-4, M-6, M-9 in Milik”, prepared due to update necessity of exploitation parameters of M-4 intake.
  • “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters intake K-1 from Paleogene deposits in Milik”, prepared due to update necessity of original reports.
  • „Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters intake Busko C-1 from Cretaceous deposits in Busko-Zdrój”, prepared due to update necessity of original reports.
  • “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters intake Dar Natury from Neogene and Upper Cretaceous deposits in Piestrzec”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intake within existing deposit.
  • “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of thermal waters intake Bańska PGP-3 from Eocene and Triassic deposits in Bańska Niżna”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intake within existing deposit of thermal waters.
  • “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters outflow W-VI-32 (Z-32 Chamber) located at level VI and W-VII-16 (Layer Chamber, previously Fornalska 2) located at level VII in Wieliczka Salt Mine”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination of the outflows with no previous record.
  • „Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of thermal waters intake from Lower Jurrasic deposits in Skierniewice”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination of GT-1 intake in Skierniewice and the conditions for groundwater injection into geological formation, where the exploitation discharge deposits were determined for GT-1 intake, previously considered as absorbent intake.
  • “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of thermal waters intake KT-1 in Karpniki in the vicinity of Jelenia Góra”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intake within existing deposit of thermal waters.
  • “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of thermal waters intake ST-1 in Staniszów in the vicinity of Jelenia Góra”, prepared due to exploitation discharge determination for a new intake within existing deposit of thermal waters.

In 2014 in the Ministry of the Environment no hydrogeological documentation for disposable resources determination was approved.

The amount of brines, curative and thermal waters intake in 2014 was calculated on 11,129,579.43 m3/year. In comparison to the previous year it has increased by about 1,252,745.70 m3.

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

Prepared by: L. Skrzypczyk, J. Sokołowski