16. Juli 2020

Let’s Talk Water!

“Citizens, environmental organisations, nature, water-using sectors in the economy all need cleaner rivers and lakes, groundwater and bathing waters." - states the European Commission.

As Austria is part of the EU Water Framework Directive, scientists from Austria have been working tirelessly to keep the open waters clean and safe since the 1970's! One of them is Professor Stephan Hann - analytical chemist from BOKU Vienna with 25 years of experience on water quality management and monitoring.

On our walking tour, Professor Hann shared valuable insights with us. The Donaukanal water derives from the Danube river and takes its unique dark green colour due to high concentration of sediments which are not harmful for living organisms! Since the early 2000's, all wastewater streams connected to the Donaukanal are cleaned before they enter the water and the water is monitored on chemical and microbiological compounds. Donaukanal is not a certified bathing water area, this is why information about the safety of swimming in the Donaukanal is not publicly available.

Certified bathing spots such as Neue & Alte Donau are not as fast-flowing as the Donaukanal and this is why biweekly microbiological testing is technically possible there. Would it be possible to apply the bathing water monitoring model to the waters of the Donaukanal?

Well, the answer is not straightforward - if the Donaukanal becomes a certified bathing spot, for monitoring purposes its flow might need to be regulated.

The story of the Donaukanal resembles that of Swiss rivers more - the fast-flowing waters of Rheine and Aare have long been safe for swimmers due to the successful wastewater cleaning plan implemented by the Swiss governmental structures.

Schwimmverein Donaukanal hopes that with the future development of the Donaukanal, the interests and wishes of swimmers will be taken into consideration. But for now, we enjoy swimming in the refreshing water of the Donaukanal and always keep in mind that after heavy rains, it is best to avoid swimming until the water is cleared out again.