Blue Danube? We're getting there, says study

17:18, 11 September 2008
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 Thanks to cooperation between the countries through which it flows

The waters of the Danube may not quite be blue, but they are definitely becoming cleaner thanks to cooperation between the countries through which it flows, a new study revealed Thursday, according to AFP.

In the words of the findings of the Joint Danube Survey 2 by the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River, "the Danube and its tributaries are becoming cleaner."

"Cooperation among Danube countries to reduce pollution is bringing positive results," it said.

"Progress has been made in many areas since the Joint Danube Survey 1 of 2001. Water quality is generally improving, but more work is needed."

The second survey was launched in August 2007, and its goal was to produce comparable and reliable data on water quality and pollution of the Danube and many of its tributaries.

Some 2,600 kilometres (1,615 miles) of the Danube were assessed, 2,415 kilometres of which were completed by three boats travelling from Kelheim in Germany, through 10 countries, to the Danube Delta in Romania and the Ukraine.

The aim was "to provide a good snapshot of the conditions of the river and its tributaries -- and it did just that," said ICPDR president Sasa Dragin, who is Serbia`s minister for agriculture and water.

"People can swim in parts of the Danube river basin, but not everywhere. People can eat fish without health risk, but further investigation of mercury concentrations is needed in some areas."

The study found that 80 percent of sites investigated could be classified "as having indications of good water quality class regarding organic pollution".

Nutrient pollution, mainly from nitrogen and phosphorous, "dropped in the past 20 years, but levels are still almost twice those in the 1950s".

By contrast, around one-third of sites were affected by microbial contamination, largely due to a lack of water treatment plants.

"Identified hotspots were the Danube stretch between Budapest and Belgrade and the tributaries Arges (Romania) and Rusenski Lom (Bulgaria)".

"More intensive discussions with stakeholders -- such as the navigation and agricultural sectors, hydropower and the detergent industry -- about measures to reduce particular pressures are needed," said ICPDR executive secretary Philip Weller,

The body was scheduled to prepare a series of measures next year.


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