Berliner Wasserbetriebe, Neue Juedenstrasse, Mitte, Berlin, Deutschland Berliner Wasserbetriebe Mitte Berlin Deutschland Berlin Water companies New centre Berlin Germany Berlin Water companies centre Berlin Germany

The top position at Germany’s largest water supplier, which has been vacant for a year, is being filled: the supervisory board of Berliner Wasserbetriebe (BWB) appointed Christoph Donner as the new CEO on Monday, as the company announced on Tuesday. In the first quarter of 2023, the 52-year-old is to take over the post that has been vacant since the then CEO Jörg Simon left in mid-2021. The state-owned company with 4,634 employees is currently being managed temporarily by Chief Financial Officer Frank Bruckmann.

According to information from the water company, Donner is moving from the Harzwasserwerke, where he has been Technical Director since 2017. Previously, he headed the technology department at Rheinisch-Westfälische Wasserwerksgesellschaft mbH. He was already employed at Berliner Wasserbetriebe between 2004 and 2009, including four years as Head of Corporate Development and Head of National Investments at Berlinwasser Holding.

According to a statement by the BWB, Donner studied hydrogeology at the Universities of Clausthal and Tübingen from 1992 to 1997 and received his doctorate in 2000 at the Dortmund Institute for Water Research. In 2021 he received an honorary professorship from the University of Duisburg-Essen, where he regularly teaches in the field of civil engineering, with a focus on urban water management. In recent years, Donner has also held various managerial and advisory positions in regional and national committees, supervisory boards and associations.

Economics Senator Stephan Schwarz (independent), who is also chairman of the supervisory board of the water company, described Donner as “a proven and nationwide valued water expert and water manager”. Securing the drinking water supply and water quality is extremely important in view of the ongoing climate change and the growing city. Through his previous work, Donner recommends himself “for this challenge in a special way”. Donner explained that he was pleased about the return to the company, also because of the task of “finding innovative solutions for Berlin and in partnership with Brandenburg as a metropolitan region”.

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In fact, Berlin and Brandenburg are mutually dependent on each other when it comes to water management, and given the years of extreme drought, this is increasingly dependent on one another: the rivers Spree, Havel and Dahme that flow from Brandenburg to Berlin hardly bring any fresh water supplies to the city. At the same time, Berlin drains the entire region, since the sewage works of the water companies also clean wastewater from the surrounding area – i.e. drinking water pumped from groundwater there, which is then discharged via the rivers towards the Elbe.

Almost all of Berlin’s drinking water is obtained within the city limits, around two-thirds from so-called bank filtrate in the vicinity of the lakes, and one-third from groundwater. Since the local water cycle in Berlin is becoming ever narrower due to the lack of supplies from the rivers, the water companies are investing almost two billion euros in additional cleaning technology for their sewage treatment plants by 2030.

At the same time, together with the rainwater agency, they have the task of reducing the ecologically fatal discharge of mixed water – i.e. rain mixed with domestic sewage – into the Spree and Landwehr Canal during storms and promoting the unsealing of the city so that more water can seep away. While corresponding rules already apply to new buildings, progress in existing buildings has so far been minimal.