Ao.Univ.Prof. Dipl.-Ing. Dr.techn.

Matthias Zessner
Tel.: +43-1-58801-22616

Centre for Water Resource Systems,
Vienna University of Technology,
Karlsplatz 13/222, A-1040 Vienna, Austria

Institute for Water Quality, Resource and Waste Management,

Vienna University of Technology, Karlsplatz 13/226, A-1040 Vienna, Austria




Zessner, M., M. Schönhart, J. Parajka, H. Trautvetter, H. Mitter, M. Kirchner, G. Hepp, A. Blaschke, B. Strenn, E. Schmid (2017) A novel integrated modelling framework to assess the impacts of climate and socio-economic drivers on land use and water quality. Science of the Total Environment, 579 S. 1137 - 1151.


Egle, L., H. Rechberger, J. Krampe and M. Zessner (2016) Phosphorus recovery from municipal wastewater: An integrated comparative technological, environmental and economic assessment of P recovery technologies. Science of the Total Environment, 571, 522-542. 


Exner-Kittridge, M., P. Strauss, G. Blöschl, A. Eder, E. Saracevic and M. Zessner (2016) The seasonal dynamics of the stream sources and input flow paths of water and nitrogen of an Austrian headwater agricultural catchment. Science of The Total Environment, 542, Part A,  935-945.


Stadler, P., G. Blöschl, W. Vogl, J. Koschelnik, M. Epp, M. Lackner, M. Oismüller, M. Kumpan, L. Nemeth, P. Strauss, R. Sommer, G. Ryzinska-Paier, A.H. Farnleitner and M. Zessner (2016) Real-time monitoring of beta-d-glucuronidase activity in sediment laden streams: A comparison of prototypes. Water Research, 101, 252-261. 


Zessner, M., Zoboli, O., Hepp, G., Kuderna, M., Weinberger, C. & Gabriel, O. (2016) Shedding Light on Increasing Trends of Phosphorus Concentration in Upper Austrian Rivers. Water 2016, 8(9), 404. doi: 10.3390/w8090404


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Prof. Matthias Zessner





Prof. Zessner is an Associate Professor of Water Quality Management in the Institute of Water Quality, Resources and Waste Management. He teaches a number of courses on water management and supervises several doctoral students. 


Teaching: Basics of Environmental Sciences, Water Quality Management, River Basin Management, Health Related Water Quality Targets and Urban Water Cycle 


Research Interests


• Water quality and river basin management including the assessment of the relationship between anthropogenic activities and instream water quality

• Nutrient management on regional scale including P-recycling

• Diffuse pollution

• Microbial transport

• Online monitoring and sampling accuracy


The main research interest of Prof. Zessner is the assessment of the relationship between anthropogenic activities, emissions to the water cycle and instream effects on water quality. The recent research of Prof. Zessner has focused on the assessment of pollutant and microbe transport across a variety of scales. This includes assessment of soil water interaction in small catchments as well as emissions modelling and development of management concepts at the large river basin scale. Prof Zessner's research involves a high level of interdisciplinary engagement to highly explore manifold interrelations with related research fields such as microbiology, hydrology, resources management, agro-economy and sanitary engineering. Further expertise includes the development of enhanced methods of (grey) water footprint accounting and water footprint sustainability assessment, the development of a methodology for assessing the cost-effectiveness of measures for foam abatement to resolve pollution conflicts in a transboundary river system as well as technical, ecological and economical assessment of technologies for phosphorus recycling.


Key Facts


Mattias Zessner obtained a University Doctorate Degree from the Vienna University of Technology in 1998 in water quality management. After a period as Assistant Professor he obtained a Habilitation in Water Quality Management in 2005 and has since been an Associate Professor at the Vienna University of Technology, Institute for Water Quality Resources and Waste Management.


Matthias Zessner has published about 220 full papers, which include 85 reviewed journal articles, 10 invited book chapters, and about 125 papers in conference proceedings and other full text publications. Having an academic background in the field of water quality management, Zessner has throughout his career strengthened the interdisciplinary of his team and of his co-operations, with the aim to tackle research problems of high complexity and high societal relevance. For instance, together with nutrition scientists, agro-economists and energy-economists he quantified the environmental effects of a collective change in diet of the Austrian population towards one with more balanced and healthy nutrition. Through collaborations with hydrologists and agro-economists, he developed a novel integrated modelling framework to assess the impact of climatic and socio-economic drivers on land use and on water quality. By combining a novel tool for the quantitative assessment of agri-environmental measures with emissions modelling at sub-catchment scale, he identified and quantified the drivers of unexpected increasing trends of phosphorus concentrations in rivers. Zessner´s research on land-water interactions has partially shifted from a focus on nutrients to one on priority hazardous micropollutants and microbes, with important contributions regarding the identification of major sources and pathways and the further understanding of transport processes at catchment scale. Zessner’s interdisciplinary research efforts have also delivered important progresses in the field of nutrient management at regional/national scale. Together with scientists from resource management, major contributions have been made with regard to the optimization of the national P-cycle and with respect to the integrated technical, economic and environmental assessment of technologies developed for P-recycling from wastewater and sewage sludge. 


Zessner’s research work has wielded a remarkable societal impact. Based on his research the City of Vienna has declared the firm intention to recycle phosphorus from sewage sludge ashes produced at the Vienna’s municipal wastewater treatment plant. Similarly, the Austrian Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management has recently included mandatory phosphorus recycling from wastewater sludge in the draft of the National Waste Management Plan. New emission regulations for tanneries have been implemented based on his work into the contribution of tanneries on foam formation on rivers. Further, Zessner’s research outcomes have set the foundation for part of the new National River Basin Management Plan, while the national strategy of surface waters’ monitoring will be redesigned according to his identification of water bodies vulnerable to contamination with priority hazardous pollutants. Finally, driven by the goal of ensuring the broad and enduring implementation of interdisciplinary approaches in the field of water resource systems, Zessner has actively promoted and coordinated the development of a new interdisciplinary study course (Bachelor and Master) on Environmental Engineering at the TU Wien, which will be likely start in the year 2019.