German government says new Rhine river engineering is adequate climate adaptation measure
Clean Energy Wire
New barrages and sluices in the Rhine are a possible solution to keep Germany's most important waterway working if recurring dry spells drain water levels below the required minimum for shipping traffic, the German government has said. In a reply to a parliamentary inquiry by the pro-business party FDP, the government argues that river engineering solutions as "adaptation measures to climate change" are adequate for stable transport conditions on the Rhine and ensure companies and power plants in important industry regions aren’t cut off from raw material supplies.
Shipping on the Rhine, which links industrial centres from Switzerland to the Netherlands in one of Europe's economic core regions, encountered severe difficulties during the unusually dry and hot summer 2018. Companies that depend on the river have developed an action plan with the transport ministry that includes providing better information on weather and water levels, more storage capacity along the river, lighter ships that can navigate low water levels and optimisation of discharge options. Environmental groups have criticised plans to carry out large-scale river engineering works on the Rhine, arguing that this could hurt the river's already strained ecosystems.