Ecological continuity on the Rhine : France singled out at the ICPR !
Despite some interesting proposals made by France at the plenary meeting of the ICPR (International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine), held on 4-5 July 2019, the long series of promises not kept by France (and by EDF) continues …
The great novelty is the proposal to restore ecological continuity by favoring the “loops” (Schlingen) of the old Rhine which bypass the large dams Rhinau, Marckolsheim and Vogelgrün, all impassable in both directions to this day. In the loops, France will erase, circumvent or equip the small ‘agricultural’ weyrs dams aswell as the dams who controles the waterflow.
If this proposal could make it possible to establish quickly the connection with German tributaries favorable to the reproduction of salmon, it seems unrealistic on the calendar side, and especially not enough to allow the access of the salmon to Basel as promised for 2020. Indeed, despite the French promises to increase the flow in the hydraulic annexes, the majority of migratory fish will always seek to use the canal where the flow is the most important.
The Delegations of Germany, Switzerland and the Netherlands, as well as many NGOs (observers) , reacted strongly to this proposal by accusing France of wanting to escape the equipment of the large dams themselves, or of push him back to 2043 at best.
Following the reactions It is not understandable that France gives up its promises to equip large dams as soon as possible. It is essential to restore fish continuity both in the main channel of the canal and in the hydraulic annexes. The question should be decided at the Ministerial Conference of the countries bordering the Rhine in Amsterdam, Spring 2020. This retreat of France may undermine the Rhine Plan 2040 currently being drafted.