Carpathian rivers under threat from hundreds of hydropower plants



Posted on 26 April 2012  | 
WWF along with a string of Ukrainian environmental NGOs has launched a petition against the construction of hundreds of small hydropower plants in the Carpathian Mountains of Ukraine which will irreversibly damage the unique natural capital of the region.

Ukrainian authorities are planning to build 330 small-sized hydropower plants (HPP) in the Transcarpathian region alone. Over 25 HPPs will be built in the Lviv region and between 50 and 150 are planned for the Ivano-Frankivsk and Chernivtsi regions.

“We are talking about construction on a frightening scale”, said Bohdan Prots, Senior Project Coordinator for WWF in Ukraine. “The proposed hydropower plants will mainly belong to the derivation type, meaning that they will consist of a dam and a pipe – the pipe leading away from the dam for a few kilometers downstream”.

If the proposed hydroelectric plants are built, this would mean an actual violation of the hydrological regime of most rivers in the Carpathians, which would lead to loss of water for the population and economy. Villages situated downstream from the hydroelectric dams will be in danger of flooding if dam walls break during floods. Many endangered bird species from the Red Book of Ukraine will disappear completely. The habitats of the Danube salmon and Brown trout will be destroyed.

“Imagine, there are plans to build more than 30 dams on some rivers, for example on the Cheremosh river. This would completely destroy the river ecosystems”.

“But the bottom line is that these HPPs will produce relatively little energy, while at the same time threatening Europe’s last great wilderness area that is a source of clean water for millions of people”, Prots said.

The petition asks Ukrainian officials at the highest level, including President Viktor Yanukovych, to declare a moratorium on the construction of small hydropower plants in the Carpathians until solid criteria are developed for new HPPs. The petition also asks for procedures for public participation concerning decisions on hydropower plants construction and for compliance with the Carpathian Convention and other international legal instruments in the field of the environment.

WWF invites people from around the globe to vote for saving the natural treasures of the Carpathian Mountains by signing the petition.
Ukraine includes some of the most valuable natural areas in the Carpathian Mountains.
© Andreas Beckmann, 2006 Enlarge

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