ICPR – International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine

New Study Results on the Consequences of Climate Change for the Rhine Catchment

Vaduz, 5 and 6 July 2011

By the middle of the century, in the Rhine catchment up to 20 % higher discharges are to be expected during winters and up to 10 % lower discharges are expected during summers, while regional variations may occur. These are among the findings of a new Study of Scenarios for the Discharge Pattern of the Rhine recently presented by the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) in Vaduz.


The Government of Liechtenstein had invited the representatives of administrations in the field of water management of all states in the Rhine catchment cooperating in the ICPR to Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein is the only state with its entire territory in the Rhine catchment.

The ICPR Plenary assembly discussed the following important issues:

For the first time, the “Study of Scenarios for the Discharge Pattern of the Rhine“ presents discharge projections at representative gauging stations on the Rhine and the Moselle for the near future (up to 2050) as well for the remote future (up to 2100). The results are in particular based on the project „Rheinblick2050” of the International Commission for the Hydrology of the Rhine Catchment (CHR) which unites various national studies, databases and calculation methods for the entire catchment.
During the last century, discharges of the Rhine already tended to increase in winter and to decrease during summers and there were more average annual floods. In this connection, the President of the ICPR, Mr. André Weidenhaupt said: “The new projections for the 21st century clearly confirm this tendency. These results must be taken seriously and step by step we will have to develop adjustment measures for all sectors relevant for water issues.“ 
The drought of the last months is now over; water levels of the Rhine and Lake Constance have slightly risen; during the spring months, in April and Mai 2011, the lowest water levels since 100 years were measured in the Rhine. Among others, this was caused by the snow melt in the Alps which, this year, already began in January and not, as normally, in April/Mai.

The natural design of rivers (revitalisation) figures among the most important activities of the ICPR and has a positive effect on coping with the consequences of climate change. These revitalisation measures serve flood protection, as more room is given to the river, and, at the same time, biological diversity and free up- and downstream fish migration are enhanced. Thanks to the measures taken so far, more than 6,000 adult salmon have returned from the North Sea to spawn in their home rivers. Furthermore, almost 1000 Lake Constance lake trout used the fish passage at the hydropower weir Reichenau in the Alpine Rhine to return to their home waters.

The ICPR welcomes the decision of the Dutch Government taken on 24 June 2011 to partly open the sluices of the Haringvliet as of 2015 which are of utmost importance for the sustainable success of the “Master Plan Migratory Fish” and serve as an additional access for salmon on their way back into the Rhine. This measure was already part of the Ministers’ Communiqué of the 14th Conference of Rhine Ministers in October 2007 and of the Management Plan for the Rhine Catchment of 2009.
Furthermore, the ICPR has updated the List of Substances for the Chemical Monitoring Programme for the Rhine for the period 2012 to 2014 which includes all pollutants of importance for transboundary monitoring in the Rhine catchment.

Also, the ICPR has given observer status to the “Arbeitsgemeinschaft Revitalisierung Alpenrhein/Bodensee and thus extended the participation of observers to the Alpine Rhine and Lake Constance. The afore mentioned organisation unites the organisations „Lebendiger Alpenrhein“ (Living Alpine Rhine) and ProFisch Alpenrhine, different active environment associations representing nature protection and fishery in Switzerland, Liechtenstein and Austria. In this connection, Dr. Helmut Kindle, President of the Liechtenstein Agency for Environment Protection and co-president of the ICPR Plenary Assembly said: “I am happy to see that, with the help of the ICPR, up- and downstream users more and more become a mutually supportive community, not only on authority level, but also thanks to the citizens who get involved in transboundary associations in the field of water protection and environment protection.”
On June 30, 2010 the ICPR celebrated its successful transboundary collaboration in matters of Rhine protection and its 60th anniversary with a commemorative colloquium in the Electoral Palace in Mainz. The brochure “Living Rhine – 60 years ICPR” gives many personal impressions of the celebration, reminds of the past and includes an outlook on the future.

Further information
International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR)
Ben van de Wetering
Tel. +49-(0)261-94252-17
Mobile: +49-170-4976861
Anne Schulte-Wülwer-Leidig
Tel. +49-(0)261-94252-19
Mobile +49-171-322 65 82

Short information
As Rhine bordering countries, Switzerland, France, Germany and the Netherlands as well as Luxemburg and the European Community co-operate within the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) on the basis of a treaty under international law. The President (at the time being Dr. André Weidenhaupt from Luxemburg) and the different ICPR fora are supported by the international staff of the permanent secretariat in Koblenz (Germany). Furthermore, the secretariat gives support to the countries in the Rhine watershed when implementing the European Water Framework Directive (Directive 2000/60/EC) and the European Directive on the Assessment and Management of Flood Risks (Directive 2007/60/EC). To this end, cross-border co-operation was extended to Austria, Liechtenstein and the Belgian region Wallonia. The working languages of the ICPR are German, French and Dutch. For detailed information on the ICPR please browse to the ICPR website: www.iksr.org.