Just as floods, low flows are natural, evident events that cannot be avoided. Low water may considerably restrict navigation on the Rhine. The performance of hydropower plants may equally be reduced in times of low discharge. Besides, low flows often go hand in hand with high temperatures, leading to reduced oxygen content which may have negative impact on the ecosystem. The Rhine States are therefore giving more attention to the topic of low flows.
The ICPR (Expert group “Low water”) is analysing past low flows events (see for example the reports on the low water 2011 and the extreme low water 2018) and investigating the consequences of low water on different uses of the Rhine (see here pictures of past low water events). The international symposium „Low flows in the Rhine catchment” took place on September 20-21, 2017 in Basel.
The ICPR drew up and published 2018 a major inventory of low water conditions and situations of the Rhine (see report 248 and summary in English).
With the uniform Rhine-wide ICPR low water monitoring system, current low water events can be directly compared and classified and possible changes in the low water discharge can be detected. The ICPR low water monitoring can be consulted here in the form of a complete catchment area map of the Rhine with information on the Rhine gauges (see also report 261 in German, French or Dutch).