ICPR – International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine

263. Report on the low-water event from July-November 2018

In the Rhine basin, the year 2018 was marked by a pronounced precipitation deficit in the months from February to November. Initially, this resulted in a marked low water level in the smaller bodies of water and increasingly in the course of the year also in the entire Rhine, which had not occurred for almost 50 years. In August, the low water level was associated with high air and water temperatures, which led to ecological impairments and restrictions in power plant operation. The low water event reached its peak in October and November. With regard to the low water discharges, the event on the southern Upper Rhine can be classified as a 15-yearly "rare" event and for the rest of the Rhine from Worms as a 40-yearly "very rare" event. In terms of the low water duration, the event on the Upper and Middle Rhine can be classified as a 50-yearly event and for the Rhine below the confluence of the Moselle as a 100-yearly "extremely rare" event.  In addition to ecological damage, the economy was particularly affected by production reductions and greatly reduced transport possibilities on the waterway.

Technical Report No. 263 presents the characteristics of the 2018 Rhine low-water event, its consequences and the measures taken. The report is available in German, French and Dutch.