Water Engineering
Members of austrian water (© Austrian Waters)

River Basin Management Boosts Democracy

The EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) keeps water management systems all over Europe busy. The so-called River Basin Management Plan is of particular interest to regional authorities as they are the ones responsible for preparing the plan at country leve

l.

Frederick Cate from the “austrian water” cluster reminds us that in doing so, authorities depend on detailed information from the relevant river basins. The practical implementation of WFD provisions, too, requires a bottom-up approach, he says. Following historical role models and ICPDR / IAWD intentions, this takes more than simply completing and checking off work items in a plan; what it takes is a permanent process of river basin management. According to Cate, this includes due consideration of all water-related aspects and a genuine involvement of all stakeholders in a river basin with their different interests.

The Lafnitz river, which is shared by two Austrian provinces (Styria and Burgenland) and Hungary, together with its tributaries Safen and Feistritz, forms a delicately structured watercourse system, which on account of its clear structure, manifold uses and availability of information (e.g. LIFE Project + RAMSAR) serves as a role model of an integrated river basin management.

The first promising results drawn from a similar project at the Triesting river in Lower Austria tempted austrian water (which is working towards becoming a Research Technology Organisation) to develop the IMSURF-RBM* project for the Lafnitz river; a funding request for the project was submitted to the EraSME technology transfer funding programme (Federal Ministry of Economics and Labour) and eventually granted approval by the funding agency on 1st November 2007.

In conjunction with local stakeholders, the two austrian water members IUP and GWT and their foreign partner G.W.C.C. Germany have now set out to complete the following specific tasks until November 2009: draw up proposals for a river basin management and risk management system for the Lafnitz river; evaluate and verify stakeholder interests and search for methods and tools to get stakeholders involved; gather ideas for a monitoring system that focuses on the preservation of surface water quality, discharge of processed wastewater and data transmission and analysis. The results will be forwarded to the aforementioned authorities.
(Source: aqua press Int. 2/2008)


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