Brines, curative and thermal water
Due to the specific physical and chemical properties of certain groundwaters, the article number 5 of the Act of 9th June 2011 Geological and Mining Law (Journal of Laws 2022, Item 1072, unified text) classifies brines, curative or thermal waters, as opposed to fresh groundwaters, as minerals.
Before the Act of 9th 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 (Journal of Laws 2006, 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. The Ordinance of the Council of Ministers classified only the deposit in Łapczyca in Małopolskie district as brine. This brine, occurring in Miocene sandstone formation, is used for therapeutic purposes and bath salt production. Groundwaters with similar composition (strongly mineralized waters of Cl-Na or Cl-Na-Ca type, with higher amount of iodine ion) 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 over 40 health resorts and other towns (i.e. Dobrowoda, Latoszyn-Zdrój, Las Winiarski, Marusza, Krzeszowice, Szczawa, Wełnin) and bottling purposes in about 20 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 (i.e. Ciechocinek, Dębowiec, Goczałkowice-Zdrój, Lubatówka – Iwonicz-Zdrój deposit, Kamień Pomorski, Kołobrzeg, Rabka-Zdrój, Ustroń, Zabłocie) and pharmaceutic preparations or cosmetics (i.e. Busko-Zdrój, Ciechocinek, Goczałkowice-Zdrój, Inowrocław, Iwonicz-Zdrój, Kołobrzeg, Krynica-Zdrój, Las Winiarski, Lądek-Zdrój, Połczyn-Zdrój, Rabka-Zdrój, Rymanów-Zdrój, Solec-Zdrój, Świnoujście, 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 (Figure 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 20°C 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 where the deposits are mainly small basins (Podhale) and in Sudetes where they are limited to tectonic zones (Figure 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 mainly in the Triassic formations of the Podhale Trough – a mid-mountain basin, characterized by a small area and high tectonic involvement. High-temperature waters occur locally in Cretaceous, Paleogene, Neogene formations and also in Devonian deposits. 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 used for municipal heating (Podhale 2, Mszczonów, Uniejów I, Pyrzyce, Stargard Szczeciński I, Poddębice), for local-scale heating (Bukowina, Cieplice, Kleszczów GT-1, Cudzynowice, Karpniki), relaxation (over a dozen aquaparks in Zakopane, Bańska Niżna, Bukowina Tatrzańska, Białka Tatrzańska, Witów, Uniejów, Mszczonów, Poddębice, Poznań, Tarnowo Podgórne and Lidzbark Warmiński), fish farming (Trzęsacz), food industry (Uniejów) and municipal purposes (Mszczonów, Uniejów).
Waters from mine dewatering are not considered as brines or thermal and curative waters.
Brines, curative and thermal waters resources and output
The presented balance for the year 2021 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 and 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 in Warsaw. The data was divided in the form of a general summary for water types (table presented further in the text), as well as according to Paczyński and Płochniewski hydrogegological units division (1996; Table 1) and also according to Polish districts division (Table 2).
In 2021 the number of water deposits classified as minerals was 148, including: 111 curative waters deposits, 36 thermal waters deposits and 1 deposit of brines. In 2021 reserves of groundwaters classified as minerals were calculated as 7,209.22 m3/h (loss by 13.30 m3/h compared to the previous year) in 148 deposits. In the analyzed period appropriate marshals of voivodeships approved the following hydrogeological and geological reports for reserves determination/update of curative waters or liquidation undeveloped thermal water intakes:
- “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters from Paleogene deposits by K-2 intake in Milik”.
- “Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge curative waters from P-21 and P-24 intakes in Piwniczna-Zdrój and Kokuszka”.
- “Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge curative waters from Paleogene deposits by P-17 and P-18 intakes in Piwniczna-Zdrój”.
- “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters by Klaudia intake in Żegiestów”.
- “Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation of curative waters in Solec-Zdrój – Solec-4 intake”.
- “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters from Paleogene deposits by P-23, P-24 and OB-2 intakes with exploitation discharge update by OB-1 intake in Muszyna”.
- “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters from Paleogene deposits by P-Ibis and G-1bis intakes in Powroźnik”.
- “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters by Rudawka Rymanowska IG-1 intake in Tarnawatka for Grupa Alta Sp. z o.o. Sp. Kom.”.
- “Annex no. 3 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge curative waters in the Krynica Dolna, Muszyna, Powroźnik and Jastrzębik region prepared due to deepening P-16 intake in Powroźnik”.
- “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters by B-1 intake in Krzeszowice for the Center for the Rehabilitation of the Locomotor System”.
- “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters by Z-14 intake in Zubrzyk”.
- “Annex no. 1 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge curative waters from Tertiary deposits by O-1 intake in Milik prepared due to exploitation discharge and chemical composition of waters update and modernization of the intake”.
- “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of curative waters by Rafał intake with exploitation discharge determination by Karolina intake after reconstruction and exploitation discharge update by Damian, Józef and Stanisław intakes in Muszyna”.
- “Annex no. 2 to hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge curative waters from Tertiary deposits by M-4, M-6 and M-9 intakes in Milik prepared due to operating parameters and chemical composition of waters update by M-4 intake”.
- “Hydrogeological documentation for exploitation discharge determination of thermal waters from Lower Jurassic deposits by Tomaszów Mazowiecki GT-1 intake” (documentation approved in 2020, entered the National Geological Archive in 2021).
- “Geological documentation from liquidation of Toruń TG-2 thermal waters intake within Toruń mining area in Toruń”.
In the analyzed period no documentation considering brines was approved, as well as no hydrogeological documentation for disposable resources determination was approved by the Ministry of the Environment.
In 2021, 81 deposits were used, including: 61 deposits of curative waters, 19 deposits of thermal waters and 1 deposit of brines. The amount of brines, curative and thermal waters intake in 2021 was calculated on 13,539,961.41 m3/year, including: 2,075,929.95 m3/year curative waters, 11,462,425,96 m3/year thermal waters and 1,605,5 m3/year brines. In comparison to the previous year it has increased of about 568,425.71 m3.
|Number of deposits
||Number of deposits
with a license
|Number of deposits
(m3 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 1998-2021.
The prospective resources of curative water that can be used, calculated as the difference between the value of disposable resources and reserves, are 38,348.50 m3/h. In the case of brines static resources in the Łapczyca deposit should be considered as prospective resources in the amount of 32,138.00 m3/h. So far, no prospective resources of thermal waters have been defined, but only the energy stored in them, which for the area of Poland is approx. 9.01-9.1 • 1018 J per year*.
Prepared by: Jakub Sokołowski, Lesław Skrzypczyk
* 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 [in Polish].