1580 Water Management System of Augsburg – 2019

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The water management system of the city of Augsburg has evolved in successive phases from the 14th century to the present day. It includes a network of canals, water towers dating from the 15th to 17th centuries, which housed pumping machinery, a water-cooled butchers’ hall, a system of three monumental fountains and hydroelectric power stations, which continue to provide sustainable energy today. The technological innovations generated by this water management system have helped establish Augsburg as a pioneer in hydraulic engineering.

Brief synthesis

The is a sustainable system of water management that evolved in successive phases through the City’s application of innovative hydraulic engineering, demonstrating an exemplary use of water resources over the course of more than seven centuries.

It represents an urban water landscape that is unparalleled in terms of its surviving successive technical diversity. The system includes: the sources of both potable and process water (spring water and river water, respectively) and their network of canals and complex of watercourses that kept the two types of water in strict separation throughout the system; water towers from the 15th to 17th century that housed pumping machinery driven by water wheels and later by turbines to counter the abrupt topographical change presented by the plateau that hosts the historic city centre of Augsburg; a water-cooled butchers’ hall from the early 17th century; a system of three monumental fountains of extraordinary artistic quality; Hochablass Waterworks that represents modern cutting-edge hydraulic engineering of the late-19th century; hydropower stations, and finally the hydroelectric power stations that continue to provide sustainable power.

Criterion (ii):

The has generated significant technological innovations, which sustained Augsburg’s leading position as a pioneer in hydraulic engineering. The strict separation between drinking and process water was introduced as early as 1545, long before research into hygiene matters established as a fact that impure water was the reason for many diseases. An international exchange of ideas regarding water supply and water generation evolved which, in turn, inspired local engineers in their drive for innovations many of which were tested and implemented in Augsburg for the first time.

Criterion (iv):

The illustrates the use of water resources and the production of highly pure water as the basis for the continual growth of a city and its prosperity since the Middle Age. The architectural and technological monuments preserve successive socio-technical ensembles that are vivid testimony to the City’s urban administration and management of water that brought pre-eminence in two key stages in human history: the water “art” of the Renaissance, and the Industrial Revolution.


The integrity of the is based on the functional unity and the wholeness of an integrated group of 22 mutually dependent elements, expressed in six typologies of structures that are a testimony to the city’s long and continuous management of its water system. The technical-architectural ensemble constituting the system is of adequate size and fully represents the features and processes, which lend the property its importance.

The integrity of the property refers to an asset that in its current state is the product of a long succession of adaptations, modifications and substitutions over more than 700 years.


The is an exceptional preserved structures that document the development of an urban water management system since medieval times. The system function is based on the preserved ensemble of water management features such as canals, water courses, waterworks for the production of drinking water, hydro-technical structures and buildings, a triad of fountains of extraordinary artistic quality, a water-cooled meat cutting, processing and sales facility and a range of hydropower plants.

Management and protection requirements

All 22 elements of the have been included in the Bavarian heritage list. They are protected by law in accordance with the Bavarian Heritage Protection Act. All the important upkeep or change measures and all construction interventions are to be coordinated with the Lower Heritage Protection Authority of the City of Augsburg and require approval in accordance with heritage protection law. Large parts of the property lie in conservation and FFH (Flora-Fauna-Habitats) areas or within the existing heritage protection areas ‘Ensemble Old Town Augsburg’ and ‘Olympic Canoe Course’. This provides extra protection for the property, as strict regulations exist for water quality control and nature conservation in addition to building and heritage preservation. The protection, sustainable use, development and design quality of the property and its setting are also ensured by various ordinances, master plans and guidelines elaborated by the City of Augsburg. Buffer zones have been designated and mapped however protective measures in the wider setting of the property should be reinforced.

A World Heritage Office is responsible for coordinating and ensuring the preservation and proper management of the property. Among other responsibilities, it checks any projects and planned constructions against compatibility with the World Heritage standards and takes care of the regular review of the general state of conservation of the property. A Management Plan has been compiled to define the framework of the future management of the property.

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