Water & Enviroment
(© Hahn)

Joint Danube Survey II Soon to Lift Anchor

This year’s biggest river expedition setting sail on August 14th will seek to reassess the data obtained in the 2001 survey and identify new trends

Just like the first Joint Danube Survey in 2001 /JDS 1 the 2007 Danube Survey will start in Regensburg, Bavaria, and take the team of international scientists on a trip through all eleven Danube riparian states. The prime target of the 2,375-km-long journey terminating in the Danube Delta in September is to collect research data and compare them with the results of JDS 1 by using standardised collection and evaluation procedures.

This will help to identify what changes in the chemical and biological water quality, nutrient inflow or water body structure have occurred since 2001. The findings of JDS 1 have shown that the Danube, while hosting a high degree of biodiversity and some rare animal and plant species, is also loaded with worrisome concentrations of organic and microbial nutrients, heavy metals, oil residues from navigation, pesticides, and other chemical substances.

The governments of the Danube riparian states are therefore called upon to take appropriate measures that help restore and maintain a healthy Danube ecosystem. By signing the Danube Protection Convention in 1998 and the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) that was to follow, these countries have accepted to fulfill a number of pivotal requirements.

The WFD is without doubt the most prominent set of rules in European water management policy; and the more ambitious its provisions, the higher the risk of failure. The Joint Danube Surveys, which are organised by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR), constitute a sound tool supporting member states in the implementation of WFD provisions. They provide the fundamental data on which subsequent strategies in the Danube Basin are based. JDS 2 seeks to complement the results of JDS 1 with additional, mainly biological and hydromorphological, parameters.

For the first time, investigation shall also involve relevant Danube tributaries such as Morava, Drava, Theiss, Save, Velika, Argesch, Olt and Pruth. ICPDR chief executive Philip Weller is proud of the achievements: “Once the data collected during JDS 2 are analysed and compared to the results obtained from JDS 1, ICPDR and its members will avail of a worldwide unique database.

The latter not only contains information on thousands of animal and plant species interacting with the Danube eco-system, but depicts the entire river catchment area. And thanks to the survey relaunch, it will even be possible to identify development trends and prospects.” The expert team will be just as international as the JDS 2 route. The core team present throughout the survey comprises 17 experts from eight countries: Denmark, Germany, Austria, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Serbia, and Romania. This team is also occasionally supported by colleagues who assist in the survey of specific river stretches.

As one of the key focuses of the new survey will be on the fish, the fleet already employed in JDS 1 (the Hungarian supply ship Szecsenyi and the Serbian laboratory ship Argus) shall be stepped up by Piscus, a ship operated by the EC Joint Research Centre. This will allow the team to carry out a part of tes-ting and sample analysis already aboard the ship. The remaining samples will be sent to specialised laboratories all over Europe for analysis.

Although the lion’s share of funding comes from the Danube riparian states and in particular from Austria, JDS 2 still relies on additional support from companies such as Alcoa Foundation, Kommunalkredit Austria AG and Coca Cola HBC. ICPDR has also managed to develop a JDS 2 awareness-raising campaign together with the local authorities and media in the Danube countries. “This is also the second mission of the Danube Survey,” says ICPDR media liaison officer Jasmine Bachmann.

“The message which the little ship fleet wants to send out to the public is: the Danube is ‘your’ river, so take care and help conserve and improve it!” There will also be several stop-overs in Vienna, Bratislava, Budapest, Osijek, Belgrade, Turnu Severin, Ruse and Tulcea, which provide a good opportunity for the researchers to attract public attention.

Danube water quality monitoring already dates back to the Bucharest Declaration of 1985. In 1992, ICPDR launched its TransNational Monitoring Network (TNMN) for the Danube River. Further expeditions investigating specific river stretches were to follow; yet JDS 1 was the first survey to investigate the Danube in its entirety and, most importantly, by using standardised methods.

The comparative results of JDS 1 and 2 shall be compiled in a final report, the contents of which will decisively influence the national river management plans to be submitted to the European Commission by 2009 as well as the supranational Danube River Basin Management Plan. ICPDR intends to make the final report publicly accessible via the Internet by early summer 2008. And without doubt, the report is also going to be intensely debated on the Danube Day held in conjunction with the 2008 IWA World Water Congress in Vienna.
(Source: aqua press Int. 2/2007, Mag. Christof Hahn)

Contact & Information:

Int. Commission for the Protection
of the Danube River/ICPDR/IKSD
Tel.: ++43/1/260 60-5738
E-Mail: icpdr@unvienna.org
Internet: www.icpdr.org

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