Jointly launched by the Upper Austrian government and the Austrian Ministry of Environment (BMLFUW), “Flussdialog OÖ” is a public consultation experiment in keeping with the provisions of the EU Water Framework Directive, the EU Floods Directive and the National Water Resource Management Plan.
As many as 5,000 (Upper) Austrians took the opportunity to become engaged in the future development of their rivers by either joining the public consultation events that were held along five watercourses, or by completing an online questionnaire between 23 April and 31 May. In addition to opting for ecological river restoration, people were also in favour of sustainable flood prevention programmes and an eco-friendly use of hydropower.
A detailed analysis of the online questionnaire shows that many (Upper) Austrians are well informed about the high quality of their drinking water and the importance of rivers with a sound eco-system.
They acknowledge the need to protect the groundwater against negative agricultural impacts and also understand the relationship between the preservation of meandering rivers and wetlands and an effective yet eco-friendly flood prevention system.
A large majority agrees that (technical) flood control systems must be focused on urban settlement areas, but outside these areas rivers should be allowed to follow their natural course and development.
Another trend is natural riverbanks, which should be extended also at the cost of land for agricultural use. With respect to hydropower utilisation and expansion, last winter’s energy crisis seems to have led to a complete turnabout.
37 percent of those responding to the online questionnaire said existing hydropower plants should be preserved and optimised; 43 percent said they would accept the building of new plants as long as these comply with stringent ecological requirements.
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(Source: aqua press Int. 3/2009)