Balkan Rivers Tour - In the lower course of river Soča kayakers more on foot than in boats

Posted on April, 03 2017

Kayakers in the BRT2 paddled the Soča River despite significant problems with crossing dams. Campaign continues on the Morača River in Montenegro.
Slovenia/Italy – In four days, the Balkan Rivers Tour team along with kayakers from eight countries paddled the river Soča from its source to the mouth in Italy. During the kayaking they documented the drastic change of Soča before and after the dams. The first two days kayakers enjoyed the rapids and white water, while the last two days they almost walking more than rowed, either because of dams, which had to be circumvented, either due to extremely low water level.
 
Rok Rozman and the BRT 2 team was every day joined by about 30 kayakers, while 10 of them paddled the entire Soča. Since the beginning of the campaign on Thursday they rowed 138 river kilometres and had to face seven dams (3 large and 4 small), that don’t stop only kayakers, but also for the endemic marble trout and other migratory fish species. Raising awareness on the damaging effect of dams on rivers, which prevent the migration of river species and affect the amount of water, is the first and primary goal of the Balkan Rivers Tour campaign.
 
Rok Rozman, the leader of the Balkan Rivers Tour campaign, summed up his impressions: “For many foreigners and local residents, which have joined us on Soča, this was an eye-opener about the harmfulness of dams on our rivers. Soča in the upper reaches is one of the most beautiful things you can you experience as a lover of nature, rivers and water sports. But the lower course, which is heavily influenced by dams and hydropower plants, looks like some kind of industrial landscape that is almost completely lifeless. Seeing such a transformation of the river and experience the two faces, the living and the dead, is something most terrible you can experience and it definitely debunks the majority conviction of green hydropower.”
 
On Sunday kayakers paddled to the Isola della Cona nature reserve in Italy, where the Soča flows into the Adriatic Sea. Press conference and public event were organised in order to discuss the issues in the lower, Italian, part of Soča, mainly in hydropeaking (too quick releasing of water from hydropower plants, which shocks ecosystems and living beings), failure to comply with the minimum flow of water, and too much abstraction of water for irrigation. The big problem for fish migration is the fact that not one dam on Soča has fish passages, although this would have significantly contribute to the survival and healthy populations of marble trout, ambassador healthy river Soča.
 
“Rivers know no borders, and Slovenia and Italy must make a joint management plan for the river Soča, in order to ensure the survival of key ecosystems and species, while allowing for sustainable development for the people living in the area. This will require better cooperation at the governmental level, the involvement of civil society organizations and the interests of local communities,” stressed Neža Posnjak from WWF Adria.
 
Every day, the organizers of the BRT 2 campaign organized various public events, round tables, movie nights and concerts, which were attended by over 200 people. The full program of events can be followed at: http://www.balkanriverstour.com/ and social networks Balkan Rivers Tour.
Kayakers under the dam on Soča
© Jan Pirnat
Kayakers had to walk around many dams on Soča
© Jan Pirnat
Kayakers had to walk around many dams on Soča
© Jan Pirnat
Kayakers arrive to the delta of Soča
© Jan Pirnat
BRT 2 on upper Soča
© Jan Pirnat