The ground is rising in Staufen
Cracks in the old town centre - more than 200 houses are damaged
In 2006/07, Staufen’s historic town hall and the rearward town hall building were completely restored. On this occasion, Staufen’s municipal council unanimously decided to use an innovative energy technology for the heating of the two town hall buildings with geothermal energy.
The town’s application for the necessary earth drillings up to 140 metres deep was approved by the competent department of the Regierungspräsidium Freiburg (regional council) and by the Landratsamt (district administrator’s office). Thereupon, an Austrian specialist company carried out the seven drillings between the two town hall buildings in September 2007.
By the end of 2007, the first hairline cracks appeared at the town hall and at other buildings in the old town centre, which continually enlarged. In the meantime, more than 220 houses of the historic town centre had been affected, which are listed as a complete ensemble.
A first expert report has been available since October 2008 and, since then, it is known what happened in Staufen’s underground: water infiltrated into a plaster/keuper layer of 75-metre thickness and plaster was formed through water’s association with anhydrite, producing an increase in volume. As a result, the ground is rising approximately one centimetre a month in Staufen and about 20 centimetres altogether so far - and the swelling process is continuing.
In order not to leave the house owners on their own with this situation, Staufen’s mayor, Michael Benitz, is seeking the establishment of an aid fund, from which the claims are to be paid.
In the meantime - as of December 2009 - comprehensive measurements and exploratory drillings have been carried out and there is a chance of bringing the uplifting to a halt by restoring the probe area and by pumping away the ground water. Only then can the restoration of the houses begin. Altogether, the damage to the houses is estimated at EUR 40 million at least.