The Danube River
CE 397 Fall 2005 Charlotte Amato
Flows through ten countries: Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia,
Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Moldova, and Ukraine. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danube_river
Watershed Area 817,000 km2
Headwaters: Black Forest 1,078 MSL
Romania 28.90% Ukraine 3.80%
Hungary 11.70% Czech Republic 2.60%
Austria 10.30% Slovenia 2.20%
Serbia & Montenegro 10.30% Moldova 1.70%
Germany 7.50% Switzerland 0.32%
Slovakia 5.80% Italy 0.15%
Bulgaria 5.20% Poland 0.09%
Bosnia and Herzegovina 4.80% Albania 0.03%
Vienna 1,900 m3/s
Budapest 2,350 m3/s
Belgrade 4,000 m3/s
Delta 6,500 m3/s
Flow allocation is not an issue.
Navigation for military and commercial use
has historically driven disputes and
development of the river.
Pollution of the river is a result of the intense
The Treaty of Paris in 1856 following the Crimean War (1854-1856) was the first
declaration aimed at establishing g a European Commission to maintain the open
and safe use of the Danube for the benefit of all riparian states.
Following WWI (1914-1919) the Treaty of Versailles confirmed the establishment
of the Europe Commission.
Nazi Party took control of the whole river from 1940 to 1944
Post WWII Communist Bloc created their own commission over the eastern half of
the river but realizing the need for trade open navigation continued.
Many dams and canals have been constructed to improve navigation along the river.
Structures of note include:
Iron Gate Dam
Danube Black Sea Canal
Hydraulic Structures on the Danube
Navigation: The Iron Gate
The Iron Gates is the name given
to a series of Georges that separate
the Carpathian and Balkan
The dam project began in 1964 as
a joint project between the
Romanians and the Yugoslavians
at the border of now Serbia and
Romania. The Dam opened in
The damn caused a rise of 35
meters in water level and the http://www.industcards.com/hydro-balkans.htm
relocation of 17,000 people.
To protect the Iron Gates area the
Yugoslavians created a national
Park in 1974 and the Romanians
Navigation: Gabcikovo Dam
The Gabcikovo Dam Project was started in
1977 under the auspice of a international treaty
between Hungary and the former
Czechoslovakia. The goal was to dam the
Danube, all the way from Bratislava to
Budapest, to provide hydro-electric energy. In
1989, Hungary suspended work citing
ecological concerns. In 1993 the International
Court of Justice was called in to arbitrate.
The Gabcikovo dam system has been operating http://www.slovakia.org
since the end of October 1992. The
construction directly affected 3,900 hectares of
fields and 3,400 ha of floodplain forests in
Slovakia and another 2,000 ha in Hungary at
the site of the original reservoir and Dunakiliti
diversion weir - built before Hungary withdrew
from the project. The canal diverts 80-90% of
the Danube river water into the reservoir. The
remaining 10- 20% of the water is allowed to
pass through the Cunovo diversion weir and
directly into the old river bed.
Navigation: Virje Dam
Croatians proposed the hydrodam to supply
4% of the country's’ energy demand.
Hungarian government officially opposed
the construction of the dam and requested
an EIA conforming with the Espoo
Convention on EIA in a transboundary
The Novo Virje hydropower project
would destroy one of the last semi-
natural river ecosystems in Europe and
would have irreversible impacts on the
Hungarian Danube-Drava National
A decision by Croatia to build the Novo
Virje dam would go against the
requirements of EU legislation. The dam
would breach the accession requirement
for all new investments in candidate
countries to comply with the EU aquis.
Danube-Black Sea Canal
The Danube-Black Sea Canal is a canal in Romania
which runs from Cernavoda on the Danube to Agigea on the Black Sea.
Although there were plans for building this canal since the mid 1800’s,
the construction didn’t begin until 1949, during communist rule. It
became known as the Death Canal in, some 40,000 people, most of
them convicts for political reasons in Romanian forced-labor camps,
were worked to death on the project between 1949 and 1953.
Construction halted in 1953.
Construction began again in 1976. The southern arm opened in 1984.
and the northern arm in 1987. The 64km canal reduces the distance by
boat from Constanta to Cernavoda by 400 km. The southern arm has a
width of 60 meters and a depth of 7 meters. The northern arm has a
length of 26.6 km, width of 50 m and a depth of 5.5 meters.
Annual profit is estimated at US$3 million.
On 25th September 1992, and after a construction time of about 30
years, the Rhine and the Danube were finally connected. A section of
171 km of the 3,500 km long waterway is formed by the Main-Danube
Canal between Bamberg and Kelheim - twice the length of the Panama
Canal. Transport capacity amounts to about 18 million tons of goods
per year. The total cost of the canal amounted to DM 3,866 million, or
about means DM 22.1 million per kilometer.
In an effort to address degrading water quality in 1985 all riparian states (8 at the
time) signed the Bucharest Declaration. AKA “Declaration of the Danube Countries
to Cooperate on Questions Concerning the Water Management of the Danube”
After the collapse of Communism in 1989 and dissolution of the Soviet Union in
1991 the instability of the economies of the Eastern Bloc exacerbated
environmental problems on the river.
1991 Environmental Program for the Danube River Basin formed an agreement that
each riparian would:
adopt the same monitoring systems and methods of assessing environmental
address the issue of liability for cross-border pollution;
define rules for the protection of wetland habitats, and;
define guidelines for development so that areas of ecological importance or
aesthetic value are conserved.
create an interim Task Force to coordinate efforts while a convention to steer
the program was being negotiated.
1992 The interim Task Force first met in Brussels to:
Adopt the Program Work Plan which listed a series of actions and activities to
strengthen coordination between the governments and NGO's involved.
Establish A Program Coordination Unit (PCU) to support the Task Force in
monitoring and coordinating the Program Work Plan actions, to assist the
Commission of European Communities (G-24 Coordinator), and provide
support to the financing partners to implement funds made available.
Two "expert sub-groups" were also established. One responsible for
establishing an early warning system for environmental accidents, and one for
1993 The interim Task Force met in Bratslava met to develop a Strategic
Action Plan (SAP) to assist in implementing the plans.
The SAP requires regular updates to allow amendments and additions
as circumstances develop. And requires wide consultation during
preparation. This is the first time an international management plan has
required public communication and coordination.
June 29, 1994 the EU and basin countries signed the Convention on Cooperation
for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River
The Danube Convention is a vital legal continuation of a tradition of regional
management along the Danube dating back 140 years.
As a political document, it provides a legal framework for integrated watershed
management and environmental protection along a waterway with tremendous
potential for conflict.
Recognizing that the internal issues within each nation are not particularly
amenable to international management the convention aims to provide a
framework in support of the transition from central management to a
decentralized and balanced strategy of regulation and market-based incentives.
Development of the Danube Strategic Action Plan and its implementation
which has been in place since 1996.
Harmonization of water quality monitoring produced by the International
Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR).
Development of emission inventories used for the development of the Action
programs of the ICPDR.
Development of the Accident Early Warning System (AEWS), developed with
EU support, has been in operation in the Danube basin since 1997.
The 11-week NATO bombing of Yugoslavia in 1999 clogged the Danube and
blocked freight traffic between Yugoslavia, Hungary, Bulgaria and Romania.
There were many issues caused by the bombing of bridges and factories along
river, notably the bombing of the Novi Sad (northern Serbia) oil refinery.
Eight bridges were destroyed. Bridge wreckage on the riverbed for up to four
years created new sills and consequently scour holes formed, significantly
altering a formerly stable riverbed.
Since the political change in Yugoslavia in 2000 the Clearance Project Unit
(85% funded by the European Commission) of the Danube Commission has
progressed with organizing the clearance work.
Accident Early Warning System (AEWS), functioned well during the serious
Baia Mare incident in the Tisza River Basin (the largest sub-basin of the
Danube river) January 30, 2000. Through communication of local EPAs
Yugoslavian authorities temporarily closed the Tisza Lake dam before the
cyanide plume reached the lake. The closure of the dam allowed the cyanide
to be diluted before traveling further down the river. Later its sudden release
increased the rate of flow through sensitive areas.
Since 1996 a regular monitoring of the water quality has been performed under the
ICPDR after the Trans-National Monitoring Network (TNMN) in the Danube River
Basin had been established. Under the TNMN the countries share their results on
the Danube pollution. In summer 2001 the a team of ten scientists from Germany,
Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and Romania completed the first
Joint Danube Survey (JDS) and sampled water quality, sediment, flora and fauna at
98 river stations on a six-weeks journey from Germany to the Black Sea.
The Danube Drainage Basin has an
important influence on the health of the
Delta and the Black Sea with a high
percentage of pollution originating
outside of Romania.
The delta was first declared a nature
reserve in 1938. The reserve was
continually expanded to reach the current
size of 547,000 ha in 1991 when it was
added to the World Heritage List and
recognized as a Biosphere Reserve by
UNESCO in 1992. Currently the delta is Source: www.salix.od.ua
managed by the Danube Delta Biosphere There are 12 habit types, 300 bird
Reserve Authority which reports to species and 45 fresh water fish species.
Romanian Ministry of Environment.
“It is one thing to agree to goals and targets in timeframes; it is another thing to,
for example, agree to shut down a polluting factory, or to create and enforce
industrial wastewater pretreatment standards, or to develop rigorous monitoring
and enforcement regimes.” Do you think the conventions are strong enough and
clear enough to promote improvements in the environmental health?
Considering the article “Controversy in the Danube Waters” do you agree with
the International Court of Justice Ruling? Do you think the result would have
been different had both nations been EU members?
European Union Membership
1951 Belgium, France, West Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, The Netherlands (founding members )
1973 Denmark, Ireland, United Kingdom
1986 Portugal, Spain
1990 East Germany reunites with West Germany and becomes part of the EU
1995 Austria, Finland, Sweden
2004 Cyprus, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia
2005 Accession of Bulgaria and Romania Screening of Croatia
2007 Membership of Bulgaria and Romania
2012 Membership of Serbia and Bosnia
Underlined states are riparian states. Italicized states are basin states.