EUROPE-2017: Dam Removal, Hydro Threats & Cancellations, River Restoration in focus

FRANCE Largest dam removal project of the continent launched With thousands of proposed dams threatening Europe’s few remaining free flowing rivers, France’s decision to remove two large dams could signal the start of a new era on the continent – with countries focusing on reviving their rivers and on large scale dam decommissioning rather than construction.

With France leading the way, countries from Spain to Finland have taken down many small and obsolete dams in recent years, but freeing up the Selune represents the largest dam removal project so far in Europe – and a major step towards bringing life back to the river, including wild salmon and eel whose migrations have been blocked by the dams for decades.

Bulgaria Austria puts Bulgarian HEP on hold for lack of electricity demand Austrian energy company EVN has put on hold plans to build a 350 million euro Bulgarian hydropower project close to the border with Turkey. Bulgarian energy experts say that low electricity prices as well as the unwillingness of the Balkan country to ensure long-term contracts for the purchase of the electricity from the project were the likely reasons for the decision.

Albania Court stops dam project on for deficient EIA & Public Consultation Albanian Administrative Court on May 02, 2017 in Tirana announced their decision against the construction of the projected hydropower plant “Poçem”: for the time being, the dam must not be constructed. According to the Court ruling, the basis of the construction licence, namely the EIA as well as the public consultation process, was highly deficient. The Vjosa ist the last big wild river in Europe, outside Russia. The Albanian Govt commissioned a Turkish company with the construction of a large dam. The Vjosa case was the first-ever environmental lawsuit in Albania. The Ministry of Environment and the Turkish construction company have 15 days to appeal.

Netherlands Higher biodiversity due to ROOM FOR RIVER project Multiple groups of endangered and protected species are returning to river areas in the Netherlands, reveal researchers of Utrecht University and Radboud University in Science Advances. The govt project ‘Space for the River’ (Ruimte voor de Rivier) was a reaction to the high tides of 1993 and 1995. The main objective was better flood protection, but the measures were also expected to improve spatial quality and enable nature recovery.

Germany Lippe River restoration doubles fish populations A new study shows the restoration has led to a doubling of both fish species richness and abundance found in Lippe river in Germany. Both fish abundance and richness broadly stabilised around seven years after restoration at more than double the pre-restoration levels. There are two environmental management insights here: first, that fish communities may take at least seven years to recover post-restoration and; second, that ongoing monitoring strategies are necessary to assess the impact of restoration strategies, as single sampling efforts may be skewed by annual variations.

Russia NO MORE HYDRO IN AMUR RIVER BASIN The biggest hydropower monopoly of Russia scrapped its last damming proposal in Amur River Basin and liquidated a subsidiary responsible for it. Map shows locations of existing HPPs (green) and new “flood-control” hydropower plants (pink) proposed for consideration after the disastrous 2013 flood.

World’s Deepest Lake Undergoing Gravest Crisis in Recent History LAKE BAIKAL seems like such an amazing place and is now in some serious problems.

SILVER LINING: Friends of Russia’s Lake Baikal Mark Small Victory Over Dam Project, Vow to Fight on.

Tsunami of HEPs in the Balkans threaten Europe’s last wild rivers Plans to build about 3,000 hydropower plants in the Balkans in the next few years endanger Europe’s last wild rivers and some of the most important biodiversity hotspots on the continent, campaigners said. Stretching from Slovenia to Albania, critics say the hydropower boom threatens animal life, including endemic species of fish, and people’s access to water used for drinking, fishing and farming.

– “There is a tsunami of hydropower dam constructions happening here and nobody really knows about it,” said Britton Caillouette, director of “Blue Heart”, a documentary that focuses on efforts to halt the hydropower plans. “Blue Heart”, which had its world première on April 26, 2018 in a screening at the Idbar dam near Konjik, focuses on local people’s and campaigners’ efforts to halt the plans.

Greece 31 dams planned on Ujosa the last wild river of Greece Widely regarded as Europe’s last wild river, the Vjosa is fed by dozens of mountain tributaries, running 169 miles from the Pindus Mountains of northern Greece to the Adriatic Sea. So far, it remains undammed, but a total of 31 dams are projected to be built along the river and its tributaries in coming years.

Unplanned construction reason behind ‘Biblical’ flood in Athens Greece declared a day national mourning after ‘biblical’ flood hit Athens Geologists however say that ‘ill-conceived construction’ made it a disaster waiting to happen.

England Rivers in producer counties ‘polluted with neonics’ Rivers close to key growing areas in Norfolk, Suffolk and Lincolnshire have been found to be heavily contaminated with neonicotinoids, according to the first analysis of new monitoring data. Under a new EU water framework ‘watch list’ scheme, the UK had to monitor the presence of five common neonicotinoids in rivers – Imidacloprid, Clothianidin, Thiamethoxam, Acetamiprid and Thiacloprid.

Privatisation of public services a national failure The way our rail, energy and water industries have been run since they were sold off by the Conservatives is an absolute scandal. Labour’s manifesto pledge to take back control of water and rail, and to step in to fix the broken energy markets, is radically exciting and will be truly transformative.

Another study question water privatization says consumers in England are paying £2.3bn more a year for their water and sewerage bills under the current privatised system than if the utility companies had remained in state ownership. As per report England is the only country to have fully privatised its water and sewerage system, with ownership transferred from the state to large regional monopolies in 1989. But across Europe, there has been a wave of renationalisations as cities including Paris and Berlin have taken water and sewer systems back under local authority control as outsourcing contracts come to an end.

Europe Study shows of small hydro are damaging European-financed small hydropower plants damaging pristine Balkan landscapes. Eight hydropower projects in Albania, Croatia and Macedonia financed with European public money have damaged biodiversity and are in urgent need of increased monitoring and restoration measures.

Freedom to the rivers The Coalition for the Protection of the Rivers of Bosnia and Herzegovina draws attention to the uncontrolled construction of the hydropower plants and the destruction of our most valuable natural values.  

EEA Report: Restoring floodplains, wetlands offer value-for-money solution to flooding This is the conclusion of a new European Environment Agency (EEA) report, which assesses the green options available in building climate resilience in wake of the increased risk posed by river flooding.

Groundwater influences Europe’s surface waters All streams are not created equal: some have a higher contribution of groundwater than others as a result of differences in geology and topography. Because precipitation needs time to travel through the soil, groundwater is a delayed form of discharge compared to overland flow and direct precipitation. As such groundwater is a relatively stable source of water throughout the year and can prevent streams from ceasing flow during dry periods. This groundwater characteristic forms the basis of the Baseflow Index (BFI) which gives an indication of the size of the groundwater contribution and can be calculated from stream discharge measurements. The streams with less groundwater are known to fall dry during summer, while the ones with more groundwater flow even in the driest periods of the year. For example, a stream with a large groundwater input is likely to be less prone to the effects of climate change.

 Compiled by SANDRP ( 

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