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Further reduction of water pollution required in the Rhine catchment

Pollutant contents of the waters in the Rhine catchment have been diminishing for a long time. However, there still are substances which pose a problem for the chemical and ecological water quality. These substances are part of continuous monitoring programmes and the states take measures to reduce their discharges. The ICPR Plenary Assembly particularly concentrates on the issues discussed during the 15th conference of Rhine Ministers in October 2013:

(1)  the pollution with so-called micro-pollutants, such as pharmaceuticals, odoriferous substances, insecticides which are new challenges for water protection;
(2)  the search for relevant techniques in order to grant free up- and downstream fish migration between the delta of the Rhine and Basel;
(3)  improved flood prevention;
(4)  adaptation of water management in the Rhine catchment in response to possible effects of climate change.

For details please see the communique of the 15th conference of Rhine ministers (October 2013), the brochure "The Rhine and its Catchment - An Overview" and different technical ICPR reports under www.iksr.org.

Luxemburg, 1st and 2nd July 2014
On the occasion of recently published press reports on the pollutant contents of European waters, the participants of the Plenary Session of the International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) staged in Luxemburg again underlined the activities of the ICPR and its contracting parties with respect to monitoring and reducing pollutant inputs.
The ICPR has been disposing of an effective monitoring programme for the chemical and biological water quality in the Rhine catchment for a long time. This monitoring programme continually records and assesses the pollutant content of waters and serves to take coordinated measures at a national level.
The so-called micro-pollutants are a new issue. The ICPR is aware of the fact that, even though comprehensive restoration measures have already been taken, these pollutants are not or only partially eliminated in today's usual biomechanical wastewater treatment plants. In this respect, during the conference of Rhine Ministers 2013 in Basel, the states agreed to develop activities in the foreseeable future targeted at avoiding and reducing micro-pollutant inputs.
The ICPR decides to implement a pilot programme measuring the pollutant contamination of biota/fish. It is supposed to largely cover requirements of the legislation on foodstuff, health and of the water legislation at the same time. A report on the contamination of fish in the Rhine had pointed out the need for such a monitoring programme (see ICPR report no. 195). The ICPR supports the efforts of the states towards drafting as uniform recommendations on consumption as possible for the population.

The ICPR reinforces its work on improving the continuity of the River Rhine from the Haringvliet (NL) until Basel. A meeting of experts is planned for September 2014 in Colmar in order to find a technical solution for upstream fish migration in the complex area around the barrage Vogelgrün/Breisach. In addition, work aimed at solutions to improve downstream fish migration is going on within the ICPR.

The drafts of the 2nd management plan under the Water Framework Directive and of the 1st management plan under the Floods Directive are on the way so that the respective  management plans will be available by the end of 2014.

Since the ICPR was awarded the 1st European Riverprize in September 2013 in Vienna, it figures among the finalists for the worldwide award of the Thiess International Riverprize 2014 in Canberra. The ICPR has thus been invited to present its success in transboundary water management of the Rhine and its catchment during the 17th Riversymposium in Australia on 15 September 2014.

Further information
International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR)
Ben van de Wetering
Tel. +49-(0)261-94252-17
Mobile: +49 -176 -55903954
or
Anne Schulte-Wülwer-Leidig
Tel. +49-(0)261-94252-19
Mobile +49-171-322 65 82
http://www.iksr.org 
 
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 Mr. Gustaaf Borchardt from the Netherlands) 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.