A European standard for drinking water boreholes!

Standardisation request by the French standardisation organisation

On 15 April 2016, the French standardisation organisation AFNOR (Association française de normalisation) submitted a request for the standardisation of "Geothermal and water boreholes" to the European standardisation organisation CEN (Comité Européen de Normalisation).
CEN then sent France's application to the national standardisation organisations for consideration and voting.

Upon receipt, the DIN, as the responsible German standardisation organisation, contacted the relevant German associations in order to obtain their opinions.


Technical officer - Water department
Dipl.-Ing. (FH) Aharon Weiß, M.Sc.

+49 221 270799 13

German associations require that boreholes for geothermal energy are kept separate from boreholes for drinking water supply

The Federal Association of companies in the gas and water sector (Bundesvereinigung der Firmen im Gas- und Wasserfach, figawa) took the lead in coordinating the formation of opinions of all concerned associations on this issue to "speak with a common German voice" in a European context.

In addition to the Association of German Drilling Companies (Bundesverband der deutschen Bohrunternehmen), the German Geothermal Association (Bundesverband Geothermie e. V., BVG), the German Heat Pump Association (Bundesverband Wärmepumpen e. V., BVW), the German Geotechnical Society (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Geotechnik e. V., DGGT), German Technical and Scientific Association for Gas and Water (Deutsche Verein des Gas- und Wasserfaches e. V., DVGW) and the Association of German Engineers (Verein Deutscher Ingenieure, VDI) were also involved in this process.

In their joint statement, the German associations rejected the application submitted and insisted on a strict separation of boreholes for geothermal energy from wells for water extraction.

Establishment of CEN/TC 451 "Water wells and borehole heat exchangers"

The request to withdraw and revise the application was not granted and the Technical Committee (TC) with the new number 451 was founded in July 2016 under the name „Water wells and borehole heat exchangers“.

After further discussion prior to the inaugural meeting of the TC 451 in January 2017, the German associations agreed to appoint a group of experts to attend the meeting in Paris. The separation of the specialist areas into different working groups (WGs) and an application as Secretariat for Water boreholes was issued as a target and also accepted at the first meeting in early 2017.

The standardisation work is now being carried out in the two Working Groups WG 1: "Water Wells" and WG 2: "Geothermal Heat Exchangers" assigned to TC 451. As Italy also joined the Secretariat of the WG 1 Water boreholes, figawa and DVGW representatives met for bilateral talks in Milan. The two delegations agreed to share the secretariat leadership. Italy took over the WG 1 secretariat leadership for the first two years and Germany leads the group under DIN from 2019.

Common goal: Highest possible quality in well construction

CEN members must adopt European Standards (ENs) unchanged in their national body of standards and withdraw conflicting national standards in order to avoid duplication of regulations. Germany is in a special situation as the essential requirements for planning, construction and operation are set out in 24 DVGW regulations. Codes of practice are not standards and only DIN is a member of CEN. Nevertheless the contents of the DVGW Codes of Practice are probably the most extensive collection of well construction specifications in Europe according to the generally recognised rules of technology.

Therefore, figawa initiated and pre-financed a translation of these specifications to support the European work. The common goal of the DVGW, as authors of regulations, and figawa is to establish the highest possible quality standards at European level and to transfer German content into the European standard without contradiction. Both associations are working together successfully and at full speed towards this goal.