At 4 small pilot lines near Günzburg visitors can already experience the design and the environmental impact of the project. A river confined by concrete and earth, whose repellent shores are neither accessible nor usable for fishers and walkers – that’s the current situation of the Danube at the power plant Elchingen. But that will change soon. The shore areas will become accessible to the people and include valuable ecological functions.
According to climate research results flood events will occur more frequent and more extreme in the future. Therefore the dams of the hydropower plants have to be increased and restored. An increase of half a meter requires a dam widening of two meters. To avoid further impact in the riparian forest, the widening should not take place towards the riparian forest, but on the water side. In front of the power plant of Elchingen, the river is 250 meters wide. Over the years, large amounts of sediments have accumulated. New, nature like shore zones will develop with rhizomes and river structures that can be settled by plants and animals. In this upstream zone of the dam an accessible riverbank with a width of three to ten meters will be created. The necessary discharge of the Danube for the electricity production is not affected by the construction. “We only use the steady water flow in the middle of the river”, said project manager Ralf Klocke of the BEW. The 1,4 million Euro project is realized in the context of the EU-conservation program “Life+” and includes 500 meters of the shore in Oberelchingen and Offingen.
On a pilot site near Günzburg with a length of 50 meters the design and the ecological impact of the project are already visible: Today there is a nature like habitat for dragonflies, grass snakes and great crested grebes. Even kingfishers have been spotted. “The aim of the pilot projects is to transfer the method on similar rivers in whole Europe,” says Klocke. The Danube shores of Elchingen and Offingen should have model character all over Europe. (Mde)