ICPR – International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine

Upstream Salmon Migration again possible at some 480 Obstacles

Rotterdam, 3 July 2013
Result of the present ICPR balance of ecological measures taken during 2000 - 2012: Upstream migration is again possible at some 480 obstacles in the Rhine catchment. 122 km² of floodplains have been reactivated, 80 oxbow lakes and backwaters have been reconnected to the dynamics of the Rhine. During its annual Plenary Assembly on July 2 and 3 in Rotterdam the ICPR presented these successes leading to an ecologically more stable and varied Rhine system.

In this connection, the President of the ICPR, Mr André Weidenhaupt underlined: "Since 2000, the fish obstacle passability in the salmon programme waters has been considerably improved. There is evidence of more than 6,900 adult salmon having returned to the Rhine catchment since the beginning of the programme in order to spawn. During the past years and thanks to the legal obligations to restore river patency for fish, numerous measures have been carried. The partial opening of the Haringvliet sluices in the Netherlands planned for 2018 is an important part of the ICPR Masterplan Migratory Fish Rhine. For salmon, apart from the Nieuwe Waterweg near Rotterdam, this opening of the sluices is the gate towards the Rhine catchment. Therefore, during the Plenary Assembly, the members of the ICPR went to see the situation on site. Furthermore, in 2015, another fish passage will be ready for operation at the barrage Strasbourg on the Upper Rhine and, in the foreseeable future also at the Gerstheim barrage. These measures let hope that, by 2020, salmon will be able to return to settle in the tributaries in the Basel area and, via the R. Moselle also in Luxemburg. The schedule for the required further measures will be an issue of discussion during the 15th conference of Rhine Ministers on 28 October 2013 in Basel."

In 2012, the ICPR had drawn a balance of the implementation of the Action Plan on Floods and stated that, along the Rhine downstream of Basel, retention areas for up to 229 million m³ of water can be used to mitigate flood peaks.
During the floods in June this year, six retention areas along the Upper Rhine were flooded following an agreement of the partners in France and Germany in order to successfully reduce flood peaks and distinctly avoid damages downstream. Additionally, the relocation of two dikes showed its effects. As the President of the ICPR said, "This is clear evidence of a well-functioning coordination of flood prevention measures to be taken in the Rhine catchment during flood events. The floods of the R. Elbe in June distinctly show the importance of precautionary flood measures and flood protection and that, also considering climate change, measures planned must be implemented."

During the last years, the water quality of the Rhine and of many of its tributaries has been distinctly improved by reducing the inputs of pollutants and nutrients of industrial and municipal origin. Micro-pollutants are a new challenge for the states in the Rhine catchment. They comprise numerous synthetic substances, such as medicinal products for human use, protecting agents for materials, insecticides as well as substances of natural origin, such as hormones. Today's normal mechanical-biological wastewater treatment plants do not or only partly eliminate micro-pollutants from wastewater. The most efficient possible measures to reduce inputs from urban and industrial wastewater have been discussed within the ICPR and are subject to an integrated assessment of selected groups of substances (see <link http: www.iksr.org>www.iksr.org, technical report no. 203). Further approaches to the treatment of micro-pollutants in the Rhine catchment will be an issue of discussion and decisions of the conference of Rhine Ministers in October of this year.

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
<link http: www.iksr.org>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 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: <link http: www.iksr.org>www.iksr.org.