Protest action at the dam Rosenburg on the Kamp river in Lower Austria. The floating letters say “Free our rivers. HPP Rosenburg – Get rid of it” © Riverwatch
The energy Austrian energy corporation EVN Group plans to heighten the dam wall drastically. We demand its removal. © Riverwatch
If the dam was to be removed, the Kamp could flow freely in its original river bed at the so-called “meander mountain” for the first time since 1908. © Peter Faschingleitner
With this action, Riverwatch (in cooperation with the Manfred-Hermsen Foundation) kicks-off the international “Remove the dams” initiative. © Riverwatch

Free the Kamp! – Dam removal at Rosenburg demanded

++ Riverwatch demands removal of EVN dam ++ Remove the Dams! Initiative for Alpine region launched ++ Austria has the highest density of hydropower plants globally ++

 

Rosenburg, October 21, 2017. With today’s unusual action, Riverwatch and kayakers from the Kamp valley in Lower Austria demand the removal of the dam in Rosenburg. They gathered in kayaks around the floating slogan “Befreit den Kamp! KW Rosenburg - WegDammit! (Free the Kamp! HPP Rosenburg - get rid of it)!” on the dam reservoir. The licence of the dam which was constructed in 1908 is expiring in 2022. “The HPP Rosenburg does more harm than good”, says Ulrich Eichelmann from Riverwatch. “Nowadays, the full amount of electricity produced by the hydro plant can be easily generated by just one wind turbine, and doesn’t need not devastate an entire river.” If the dam was to be removed, the Kamp could flow freely in its original river bed at the so-called “meander mountain” for the first time since 1908. Fish and other aquatic species could once again migrate freely and would obtain new habitat. The Kamp Valley would be gain an attraction.

However, the Austrian energy corporation EVN Group is planning an expansion of the plant for 10 million Euro. The existing dam wall is to be heightened drastically and the river below the plant deepened. This would destroy even more valuable river landscape. For the EVN, this expansion is only worthwhile since it receives subsidies for it. Due to a surplus on supply, the actual price of electricity on the market is currently so low, that the expansion is not profitable. This means that the customers would basically finance a project of the EVN that is uneconomical as well as ecologically devastating.

Austria is the country with the highest density of hydropower plants globally. According to the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) in Vienna, there are 5000 existing plants in the country. The biggest 400 plants produce 96 % of energy from hydropower. This means that the 4,600 smaller plants, including the HPP Rosenburg, generate only 4 % of the total energy from hydropower in Austria, but they destroy our rivers and creeks 4,600 times!

“We don’t need more hydropower plants, but living rivers. It is time to tackle the removal of outdated dams and weirs”, says Ulrich Eichelmann.

The action at Rosenburg is also the kick-off event of the international campaign “Remove the dams!”, which aims to promote the removal of dams, particularly in the Alpine region. Together with the Manfred-Hermsen Foundation in Bremen, Germany, Riverwatch will prepare a list of 50 dams to be removed. Everyone can participate and suggest particularly harmful dams. Anyone can fill in this online questionnaire on the Riverwatch website.

Without the removal of dams, the legally obligatory goals of the EU Water Framework Directive, which require all rivers to be restored to a good ecological condition by 2027, can never be achieved.

In the US, about 1,300 hydropower plants and weirs have been taken down since 1998. Even in France and Spain an increased number of dams are being removed.

Our demands

  • HPP Rosenburg: removal of the dam. As a first step, the authorities of Upper Austria must obligate the EVN to provide an assessment of the removal according to ecological and economic criteria.
  • In general: in regards to the expansion of any existing plants, the option of removal must always be assessed according to ecological and economic criteria.
  • In regards to administrative proceeding concerning the extension of concessions, the removal of a plant must always be assessed.
  • Owners of weirs and hydropower plants must receive financial support for the removal
  • Subsidies of new hydropower plans or the expansion of existing ones must be terminated.

 

More information

 

For further information please contact

Ulrich Eichelmann - Riverwatch ulrich.eichelmann@riverwatch.eu  0676 6621512