Děčín weir would destroy the protected nature. People urge the government to stop the project

22.3.2018 - PRAGUE
Elbe's canyon just outside Dečín

The government wants to build a weir on the lower section of the Elbe, from which it promises to ensure the year-round navigability of cargo ships on the river. Environmental experts raise voices not only to point out the economic absurdity of the project but also because of the destruction of valuable natural surroundings hosting protected plant and animal species. On today's occasion of the World Water Day, people can help save the Elbe by signing an appeal at www.zivelabe.cz.

Only small number of companies would profit from the economic benefits of building the weir. At the same time, the unique natural values of the Elbe and the neighbouring area is at stake. The landscape is an popular destination for tourists from both sides of the Czech-German border who use the cycle path between Dresden and Ústí nad Labem. By transforming the banks and due to the construction of the weir, the area would lose its unique character and the local economy would be robbed of an important part of income. In Germany only, the tourism along the Elbe river makes 120 million euros a year.

“Unfortunatelly, the impact on the environment would be disastrous. No compensation for concreting the river would not bring back the diverse life in the Elbe and the economic losses. That's why a petition against the weir on the Elbe was created. People can sign at exclusive website www.zivelabe.cz launched and operated by Arnika” explains Nikol Krejčová, nature protection specialist from mentioned NGO.

Experts in environmentalism argue that the actual extra value of the weir for the ship transport would be scant, if any. The Elbe is now completely navigable for modern low-dive vessels. The weir construction would allegedly ensure sailing for obsolete vessels with a deeper dive, but for not more than only a nine-kilometer part of the river. In addition, due to drought caused by the climate change the water level is decreasing every year now making the Elbe navigable for less and less days. That's why environmentalists recommend investing the money rather to rail transport and high-quality road repairs and bypass construction. Building of the weir would cost around CZK 5 billions from state budget.

At its downstream, the Elbe is one of the last rivers in Europe that is unbounded by concrete and dikes, water in the Elbe is not limitted by any weir or dam. The river creates an amazing three hundred meters deep sandstone canyon - Labské pískovce (landscape park). Also, more natrural jewels can be found here such as the stony bank gravel alluviums that the river has created for centuries and are home to rare plant and animal species. Therefore, it's one of the most important natural areas of Europe enlisted in the NATURA 2000.

The World Water Day reminds us of the importance of water for life on Earth and emphasizes that people care about it. Water resources are at risk of drying out, toxic pollution or large dam and weir construction. That's why many events around the world are taking place to warn the public about water protection. The motto of this year is Nature for water.

Translation: Hana Borejová

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