World Water Day 2021: less waste in our rivers thanks to VERBUND hydropower plants


30,000 tonnes of flotsam were fished from the water at the VERBUND hydropower plants in 2020 – that’s 20% above the annual average. Not only was driftwood collected, but also human-generated waste such as plastic.

International World Water Day on 22 March is being held under the topic of “protecting water” and is intended to raise awareness about how important water is as the basis of life. Hydropower plants not only supply renewable electricity, they also clean the rivers. River screens trap a lot of the material that floats up against the power plant wall. Divers are very occasionally called on to help when bulky flotsam gets stuck on the riverbed. 

Apart from pieces of wood of various sizes, quantities of human-generated waste are also collected at the power plants and disposed of professionally. According to the Integrated VERBUND Business Report, a total of 30,000 tonnes of screened material was disposed of in 2020. This year’s above-average figure is related to the water flow and numerous smaller flood events in the second half of the year. There are also clear differences between individual power plants, with larger quantities arising in the vicinity of conurbations.

The professional disposal of human-generated waste, especially plastic, fulfils an important purpose. Large pieces of plastic are already fished out of the water by the screens at our power plants. However, if plastic remains in the river, the force of the water gradually breaks it down into its micro-components. These plastic particles then spread through rivers and oceans and thus into the entire food chain.


Portrait Florian Seidl Florian Seidl

Spokesperson Region East

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