Posted on 20 March 2007
In its latest report, World’s Top 10 Rivers at Risk, released ahead of World Water Day (March 22), WWF lists the Danube among the top ten rivers in the world that are fast dying as a result of dams, pollution and climate change.
Brussels / Vienna - In its latest report, World’s Top 10 Rivers at Risk, released ahead of World Water Day (March 22), WWF lists the Danube among the top ten rivers in the world that are fast dying as a result of dams, pollution and climate change.
The world’s top water suppliers - rivers on every continent - are being destroyed, leading to severe water shortages and loss of natural wealth. Poor planning and inadequate protection of natural areas mean we can no longer assume that water will flow forever, says the global conservation organisation.
Over 80 per cent of the original floodplain area along the Danube and its main tributaries has been lost since the beginning of the 19th century. In addition, as part of the EU Trans-European Network for Transport (TEN-T), new infrastructures are already planned for the Danube. They put at risk the most valuable and spectacular natural stretches of the river, such as the Bavarian stretch in Germany, the Wachau valley in Austria and the middle and lower Danube in Hungary, Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria.
Further canalising the river results not only in loss of biodiversity and wetlands - thereby increasing problems with flood management - but can also draw down water tables, risking access to drinking water for 20 million people in the region. In fact, over 85 per cent of the Danube could fail to meet the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive, which aims to achieve “good status” of all European waters by 2015.
On World Water Day, the European Commission is organising a conference to assess the progress with the Water Framework Directive to date and discuss future challenges. WWF is calling on the EU and its Member States to step up their efforts and ambitions in implementing this groundbreaking EU law, creating a situation where we are less wasteful of our water, the water we use is priced fairly, those who pollute it are made to pay and waste is properly treated rather than washed straight into waterways. It is vital to keep our rivers flowing, clean and healthy.
The Danube is the only European river listed in WWF’s report. Others include the Americas’ La Plata and Rio Grande/Rio Bravo, Africa’s Nile-Lake Victoria and Australia’s Murray-Darling. Five of the ten rivers listed in the report are in Asia alone: Yangtze, Mekong, Salween, Ganges and Indus.
“The freshwater crisis is bigger than the problems listed in this report but it mirrors the extent to which unabated development is jeopardising nature’s ability to meet our growing demands,” says Sergey Moroz, Freshwater Policy Officer at the WWF. “We must change our mindset now or pay the price in the not so distant future.”
Notes to the editors:
• The European Commission is organising the European Water Conference on 22 and 23 March 2007 in Brussels, on the occasion of World Water Day. At the conference, the European Commission will present the first report on the implementation of the Water Framework Directive, which will be critical of a number of EU Member States failing to appropriately transpose the directive into the national law and/or to properly perform the first tasks in line with the requirements of the directive. For more information: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/water/water-framework/conference.html
• Information on many WWF projects can be found on Google Earth. New users must first download the Google Earth application from www.earth.google.com. Once this has been done, users will find WWF in the Featured Content section under the heading Layers.
For further information:
Sergey Moroz, European Water Policy Office at WWF
Tel: +32 2 740 09 23
Claudia Delpero, Communications Manager at WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 740 09 25
Mobile: +32 497 406 381