The Romanian Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure and Communications, the River Administration of the Lower Danube – Galati, Romania (AFDJ) and the Romanian National Institute for the Protection of the Environment (INCDPM) presented their projects to sustainably improve Danube navigation and monitor the natural habitats in the works area, during 2 meetings with the Secretariat of the Danube Commission, which took place in Bucharest on 18 November 2019.
The Director-General of the Secretariat underlined the need for measures to effectively address the navigation challenges on the Romanian sector of the Danube, and presented the support the Commission is prepared to provide to waterway administrations in their efforts to ensure good navigation conditions.
The representatives of the Romanian authorities stressed the difficulties encountered when undertaking complex engineering interventions in a delicate natural site like the Lower Danube, and the importance of gathering adequate information, both technical and environmental, before undertaking any engineering works. The industry representatives, also present at the meeting, expressed their satisfaction with the gradual improvement of the navigation conditions on the Old Danube, a consequence of previously implemented projects and current maintenance dredging performed by AFDJ in the bottlenecks, but drew the attention to the impacts of climate change on Danube water discharge and the need to address these impacts through additional river engineering works. These works should be undertaken on the basis of already gathered environmental information, once this information is reviewed. Financed by the Romanian Ministry for Research, INCDPM is continuing its efforts to tag adult sturgeons in order to extend the essential information on the migration of these critically endangered species and confirm their routes of migration.
BACKGROUND INFORMATION: The Danube Commission is an international organization tasked with ensuring the freedom of navigation on the Danube River in accordance with the 1948 Belgrade Convention. According to this Convention, the parties, members of the Commission, have an obligation to ensure the good navigable conditions of their sectors of the Danube. The Secretariat of the Danube Commission follows up on the implementation of this obligation and reports accordingly to the Commission. Since the early 2000s, the Romanian authorities have been engaged in various EU-funded projects to improve navigation conditions on the Danube sectors under their administration. Between 2011 and 2016, AFDJ has undertaken extensive works to improve navigation conditions between Calarasi and Braila, km 375 – km 175. The complexity of the sites required an analysis of alternative/complementary technical solutions, which is currently being conducted under a service contract with a major engineering company. The technical solutions to be implemented will respect the environmental assessment procedures conducted by the Romanian environmental authorities.
Moreover the ROMOMED project provided an unique opportunity to monitor the environmental impact of the works performed to improve the navigation conditions, particularly the impact on the migration of adult sturgeon in the Danube River, to inform the developers of the project on the habitats of these species and, if needed, to take the necessary actions in order to mitigate/eliminate possible effects on the environment.
Finally, under the FAST Danube project, the Romanian and Bulgarian waterway administrations are currently identifying technical solutions to be implemented in order to ensure navigation conditions on the Romanian-Bulgarian common sector of the Danube.