River Systems

Besides respecting the principles of sustainability, a responsible management of our water re-sources demands an approach focusing on riverbasins, i.e. balanced and coordinated action across regional and national borders. Bavaria already adopted a cross-border river basin management policy long before the implementation of the EU directives on water management (Water Framework Directive and Flood Risk Management Directive). For decades transnational water management issues have been addressed jointly with neighbouring states, for example with the Czech Republic in the “Standing Committee�? and the Secretariat for Bavarian-Czech Boundary Waters. A trusting and efficient cooperation has been established with Austria in transboundary river basin districts within the framework of the so called “Regensburg Treaty�?, the same applies to the cooperation with Bavaria’s adjoining federal states of Baden-Württemberg, Hesse, Thuringia and Saxony. Bavaria is also a permanent and active member in international river basin commissions (ICPDR, ICPER, ICPR) and in national river basin communities (FGG Elbe, Rhine, Danube). All of these national and international cooperations are committed to ensure responsible, efficient and effective water management..

Background Information

Bavaria is a land of water: it has a dense network of rivers and streams with a total length of water-courses of some 100,000 km. These dynamic ecosystems - which are so essential for many spe-cies of animals and plants - shape Bavaria’s landscapes. On one hand, it is essential to protect and develop effectively natural resources, and on the other hand, we also need an efficient system to warn and protect the population of flood events. In both cases it is of high priorityto secure a sustainable water management at riverbasin level. While the EC Water Framework Directive (WFD) provides the basis for the protection of surface and ground water bodies, the EC Directive on “the Assessment and Management of Flood Risks�? (EFD) sets new standards in dealing with flood risks, considering also the impact of climate change.

The necessity for a sustainable and effective water management arises on the one hand from the utmost importance of these ecosystems for flora and fauna, and, on the other hand, from extensive land use demands of human beings. River landscapes are, after all, highly rated as areas for set-tlements and recreation, as transport routes, power resources and for the supply of water.

Large river water bodies totalling 4,200 km in length are classified as waters of the first order with supraregional importance (including federal waterways). A further 4,800 kilometres of rivers are Class 2 water bodies with regional significance. The remaining surface waters are either Class 3 water bodies or water bodies of subordinate significance in terms of water management.

Bavaria meets its responsibilities in this regard via an integrated water management at river (sub-) basin level, based in particular on the implementation of the WFD as well as the EFD.

The WFD establishes a European framework for the protection of water bodies at a high level: all water bodies have to attain an almost natural status by the year 2027 at the latest (i.e. at least good ecological and chemical status). In order to achieve this challenging goal, management plans and programmes of measures are set up every six years. At the end of 2014 the drafts of the updated 2nd water management plans for Bavarian river basin districts were published under www.wrrl.bayern.de.

There is no absolute protection against flooding – this became evident during the major floods of 1999, 2005 and 2013. Floods belong to the natural hydrologic cycle and cannot be prevented. All efforts to control flood events are therefore focused on reducing the negative impact of floods. In this respect, since the Whitsun floods of 1999 the Bavarian State Government has been pursuing an integrated protection concept that involves technical measurements, natural retention and pre-cautionary action against floods (see also the information on the Action Programme 2020 and 2020plus under www.lfu.bayern.de/wasser/hw_aktionsprogramm_2020). This approach was also adopted by the European Commission in the Directive on the Assessment and Management of Flood Risks (EFD) and its implementation into national and federal law has established a framework for wellfounded, methodical and balanced flood event management in river (sub-)basin districts. Further information is provided in the Internet under www.stmuv.bayern.de/umwelt/wasserwirtschaft as well as under www.lfu.bayern.de/wasser/hw_risiko.

Climate change will have a greater impact on water management in the future. More frequent and more intense heavy rainfall events increase the risk of floods and/or alpine natural hazards, such as landslides or falling rocks. On the other side, there is a greater probability of prolonged dry periods, with negative effects for instance on water quality and on the use of shipping routes or the generation of hydroelectricity. To meet these challenges systematically at an early stage, adjust-ment strategies are already being developed, especially in the water management sector. Impacts on regional water management and possible adjustment measures are the subject matter of the KLIWA investigation programme (Climate change and consequences for water management), see also www.kliwa.de).

For the State of Bavaria, fundamental knowledge and background information on climate, present and future climate changes as well as the resulting consequences for the water regime have been compiled under www.lfu.bayern.de/wasser/klima_wandel. Within the EU project ESPACE (www.klimaprojekt-espace.bayern.de) the Franconian Saale river basin was used as an pilot example to determine the economical impacts of climate change in terms of flooding and the re-spective efficient precautionary measures required.