Dams and weirs - yay or nay? The importance of this question is being annually brought up by today's international river protection initiative. "Every year on March 14, thousands of people around the world lift their voices to celebrate the world's rivers and those who struggle to protect them," says the official website. "The International Day of Action for Rivers is a day to celebrate victories such as dam removal and river restoration," it adds.
English subtitles available in the video
"Weirs and dams cause radical and irreversible changes for the river ecosystems. A typical example is the planned weir on the Elbe near Děčín, north Bohemia. The project has been rejected several times for its devastating impact on the preserved Elbe, which was listed as one of the most important examples of European nature," offers a Czech example our expert on nature protection Nikol Krejčová. This and other issues are Arnika’s field of work also abroad. A pan-European problem today is, for example, the massive and almost unregulated hydropower plant boom in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Festive since 1997
Although it is not an official UN day, events, happenings and demonstrations are held across the continent today. Everywhere people are trying to point out the risks linked with river damming and the often overlooked impacts of the flow regulation. "Filling up the rivers with concrete often threatens local residents, small farmers who then lose their homes and livelihood," Krejčová from Arnika points out one of the problematic aspects of the dams.
The initiative itself was set during the First International Meeting of People Affected by Dams taking place in Curitiba, Brazil, in March 1997. The resulting declaration entitled "Water for Life, Not for Death!" was signed by representatives of twenty participating countries.
And what is the International Day of Action for Rivers actually about? "It is a day to take to the streets, demonstrate and demand improvements in the policies and practices of decision makers. It is a day to educate one another about the threats facing our rivers, and learn about better water and energy solutions. Above all, it is a day to unite – by acting together, we demonstrate that these issues are not merely local, but global in scope," the Internationalrivers.org explain.
And what about you, do you have your favorite river? And have you visited it today?