East of Vienna

Setting a trend?

One of the two free-flowing sections of the river in Austria is between Vienna and the Austrian border with Slovakia. The largest connected floodplain forest on the upper Danube is located here. Decisions made here in the planning of navigation projects could have a "domino effect" on the entire Danube.

The project is located on the Danube section between the Freudeneu hydropower station next to Vienna and the Austrian-Slovakian border, amounting to 48 km in length. It is within the boundaries of the Donau-Auen National Park, which is also a biosphere reserve, a designated Natura 2000 site, and a Ramsar site.

This project aims to modify the navigation channel from the present 2.2 m total depth to reach a 2.8 m total depth for low water periods (343 days per year). 

Due to involvement of ecological scientists in the project planning, ecological compensation measures were included in the project design. These compensation measures, such as riverbank restoration, waterway linkages, and sidearm re-connection, can lead to an overall improvement of the ecological situation.

However, this project could lead to a new “depth wave” for the whole Danube. For the first time, a depth beyond the recommendations of the Danube Commission (2.5 m) shall be realised. Logically, other stretches will have to be developed without knowing the basin-wide impacts. According to an official project publication: “…the planned benefits [of this project] can only be fully realised if the bottlenecks in the neighbouring Danube countries can also be eliminated.”

 / ©: WWF-Austria/P.Huber
Parts of the Danube Floodplain National Park east of Vienna, Austria, are located within the navigation infrastructure project area.
© WWF-Austria/P.Huber

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