LIFE Network Danube Plus: Lower Austria’s longest fish pass is in operation

4/29/2022Kirchberg am Wagram, Zwentendorf

VERBUND and partners are making Austria’s largest Danube power plant Altenwörth passable to fish as part of the eco-project LIFE Network Danube Plus.

After two years under construction, the new fish pass at the Danube power plant in Altenwörth was put into operation by the project partners of LIFE Network Danube Plus at a small opening ceremony. At 12.5 kilometres in length, the new bypass river is the longest of its kind in Lower Austria. In total, €14.5m were invested in the last two years in removing barriers and increasing species diversity in the area surrounding the two run-of-river power plants at Altenwörth and Greifenstein (of which €11.5m in the fish pass alone).

The now completed LIFE Project Network Danube Plus connects to a series of comprehensive ecology projects of VERBUND on the Danube, which were presented on this occasion in a newly published book “LIFE & The Danube”.

“With forward-looking measures, as here at the Danube power plant Altenwörth, VERBUND is building a bridge between renewable electricity generation and ecological compatibility. As a European river, the Danube is regaining its ecological diversity piece by piece. At this point, I would like to thank all project partners who supported us on this sustainable journey,” said Michael Strugl, CEO of VERBUND.

“The creation of habitats is vital for improving the ecology of our waterways. In the new bypass river at the Altenwörth power plant and in the reservoir of the Greifenstein power plant, aquatic lifeforms can now find a new and valuable habitat, and typical species of Danube fish can now migrate up the river unimpeded. In order to support the implementation of this LIFE project, we here at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism have funded it to the tune of one million euros,” said Federal Minister Elisabeth Köstinger on the successful completion of the project.

Deputy Provincial Governor Stephan Pernkopf: “The energy transition and greening have always gone hand in hand in Lower Austria. More space for species diversity also means greater benefits for people. Here in Altenwörth, that is topped off by renewable electricity from domestic hydropower. We, together with the project operator, are delighted about this showcase project of European stature.”

“The efforts of everyone involved have set much in motion for the ability of aquatic lifeforms to move up and down the river unimpeded and to preserve species diversity; however, in terms of future generations, the Danube still needs a lot of commitment and willingness to change, in order to improve the quality of life of our aquatic animals and ultimately also of the population, which finds recreational opportunities along near-natural bodies of water,” said Karl Gravogl, National Fisheries Master of the Lower Austrian Provincial Fishing Association, looking to the future.
 
“For the restoration of the waterways around our hydropower plants, we will receive over €280m from VERBUND by 2027. We have already invested more than half of this, and the success of these measures can already be seen. With today’s opening, the Danube becomes barrier-free over a distance of 1,100 km, from the Iron Gate in Romania to Ybbs-Persenbeug,” said Achim Kaspar, VERBUND Executive Board member for electricity generation (COO).

Lower Austria's longest fish bypass and more

“Thanks to the now complete bypass river here in Altenwörth, it is possible for the fish and other forms of aquatic life to pass around the biggest run-of-river power plant in Austria via the longest fish ladder in Lower Austria. In the coming years, we will also remove the final hurdles on the Danube in Austria at the power plants in Ybbs-Persenbeug, Aschach and Jochenstein, which still remain impassable, as well as on the Inn as far as the border with Tyrol,” says Karl Heinz Gruber, managing director of VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH. 

“Apart from the fish pass, other ecological measures were taken in the LIFE Network Danube Plus project. These include the reconnection of the Krems, Kamp and Mühlkamp tributaries to create a large, networked habitat in combination with measures on the old course of the Danube. Together with the four converted culverts on the “Giessgang” at the Danube power plant in Greifenstein, which enables fish to ascend between the Danube and the Schmida and Göllersbach tributaries, and the “New Traisen” at Altenwörth, a high-quality, ecological habitat that radiates far beyond the region has been created.

LIFE & The Danube – land restoration projects on the Danube

“In the last 20 years since the EU’s Water Framework Directive came into force, a whole series of LIFE projects has been implemented by VERBUND. Following the LIFE+ Traisen and LIFE Network Danube measures, the LIFE Network Danube Plus project continues in this tradition. It was therefore finally time to record this unique success story. In the book “LIFE & The Danube”, our authors vividly document the collaboration and contribution we have made, and will continue to make, with our partners – the EU, the federation, the provinces, as well as the fishing associations and universities,” says Michael Amerer, managing director of VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH, summarising the book. “It is with great pride that we present today in the book the implemented measures from the perspective of employees, partners and experts, and understand the ecological success as a mandate to continue along this path.”

After two years under construction, the new fish pass at the Danube power plant in Altenwörth was put into operation by the project partners of LIFE Network Danube Plus at a small opening ceremony. At 12.5 kilometres in length, the new bypass river is the longest of its kind in Lower Austria. In total, €14.5m were invested in the last two years in removing barriers and increasing species diversity in the area surrounding the two run-of-river power plants at Altenwörth and Greifenstein (of which €11.5m in the fish pass alone).

The now completed LIFE Project Network Danube Plus connects to a series of comprehensive ecology projects of VERBUND on the Danube, which were presented on this occasion in a newly published book “LIFE & The Danube”.

“With forward-looking measures, as here at the Danube power plant Altenwörth, VERBUND is building a bridge between renewable electricity generation and ecological compatibility. As a European river, the Danube is regaining its ecological diversity piece by piece. At this point, I would like to thank all project partners who supported us on this sustainable journey,” said Michael Strugl, CEO of VERBUND.

“The creation of habitats is vital for improving the ecology of our waterways. In the new bypass river at the Altenwörth power plant and in the reservoir of the Greifenstein power plant, aquatic lifeforms can now find a new and valuable habitat, and typical species of Danube fish can now migrate up the river unimpeded. In order to support the implementation of this LIFE project, we here at the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Regions and Tourism have funded it to the tune of one million euros,” said Federal Minister Elisabeth Köstinger on the successful completion of the project.

Deputy Provincial Governor Stephan Pernkopf: “The energy transition and greening have always gone hand in hand in Lower Austria. More space for species diversity also means greater benefits for people. Here in Altenwörth, that is topped off by renewable electricity from domestic hydropower. We, together with the project operator, are delighted about this showcase project of European stature.”

“The efforts of everyone involved have set much in motion for the ability of aquatic lifeforms to move up and down the river unimpeded and to preserve species diversity; however, in terms of future generations, the Danube still needs a lot of commitment and willingness to change, in order to improve the quality of life of our aquatic animals and ultimately also of the population, which finds recreational opportunities along near-natural bodies of water,” said Karl Gravogl, National Fisheries Master of the Lower Austrian Provincial Fishing Association, looking to the future.
 
“For the restoration of the waterways around our hydropower plants, we will receive over €280m from VERBUND by 2027. We have already invested more than half of this, and the success of these measures can already be seen. With today’s opening, the Danube becomes barrier-free over a distance of 1,100 km, from the Iron Gate in Romania to Ybbs-Persenbeug,” said Achim Kaspar, VERBUND Executive Board member for electricity generation (COO).

Lower Austria's longest fish bypass and more

“Thanks to the now complete bypass river here in Altenwörth, it is possible for the fish and other forms of aquatic life to pass around the biggest run-of-river power plant in Austria via the longest fish ladder in Lower Austria. In the coming years, we will also remove the final hurdles on the Danube in Austria at the power plants in Ybbs-Persenbeug, Aschach and Jochenstein, which still remain impassable, as well as on the Inn as far as the border with Tyrol,” says Karl Heinz Gruber, managing director of VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH. 

“Apart from the fish pass, other ecological measures were taken in the LIFE Network Danube Plus project. These include the reconnection of the Krems, Kamp and Mühlkamp tributaries to create a large, networked habitat in combination with measures on the old course of the Danube. Together with the four converted culverts on the “Giessgang” at the Danube power plant in Greifenstein, which enables fish to ascend between the Danube and the Schmida and Göllersbach tributaries, and the “New Traisen” at Altenwörth, a high-quality, ecological habitat that radiates far beyond the region has been created.

LIFE & The Danube – land restoration projects on the Danube

“In the last 20 years since the EU’s Water Framework Directive came into force, a whole series of LIFE projects has been implemented by VERBUND. Following the LIFE+ Traisen and LIFE Network Danube measures, the LIFE Network Danube Plus project continues in this tradition. It was therefore finally time to record this unique success story. In the book “LIFE & The Danube”, our authors vividly document the collaboration and contribution we have made, and will continue to make, with our partners – the EU, the federation, the provinces, as well as the fishing associations and universities,” says Michael Amerer, managing director of VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH, summarising the book. “It is with great pride that we present today in the book the implemented measures from the perspective of employees, partners and experts, and understand the ecological success as a mandate to continue along this path.”

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VERBUND restoration projects on the Danube

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LIFE Network Danube Plus

Fish passes and new habitat on the Danube between Altenwörth and Greifenstein

Project LIFE Network Danube Plus