Press release from Riverwatch, Euro Natur and Eco Albania
Tirana, 20 March 2018. Scientists from Austria and Albania continue their studies on the River Vjosa – the last big wild river in Europe. Today they held a press conference to present the findings of the expeditions carried out during 2017 in the Vjosa valley as well as recent field work data. Between 15 and 19 March 2018, the group of scientists from the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences (BOKU) of Vienna and the Polytechnic University of Tirana, Faculty of Geology and Mining, continued with the River Sediment Study in the Vjosa Valley.
The sediment study will be carried out in several phases, through contemporary techniques and will measure the flow and quality of the river Vjosa sediments. It will thus determine the impacts that the dam construction will bring. On the other hand, these data will prove how effective a dam construction can be in Vjosa, considering the amount of sediment transported.
“The construction of dams along the entire basin of the Vjosa River should be based on a good geological, geo – engineering, hydrogeological and sedimentological study. Unfortunately, so far we do not have studies of this kind. We can not contemplate that we can construct strategic objects of this type without sufficient information on the quantity and variety of sediments to be deposited in the upper part of the dam and that severely affect the life of the dams”- said Dr. Klodian Skrame from the Politecnic University of Tirana.
Initial studies conducted earlier in Vjosa showed that sediments blocked by the dams would lead to a drop in ground water levels, alienation of lagoons, loss of biodiversity values and change of coastline from erosion.
“Albania has very high erosion rates 20 – 40 t / ha / year” – stated Dr. Chhristoph Hauer, from the BOKU University – “the authorities should take precautions to avoid lose-lose-lose situation at the Vjosa: (i) Loosing the capacity for producing hydropower due to sedimentation, (ii) loosing the ecological integrity of the last undisturbed large river, (iii) loosing the opportunity for touristic use and fisheries productions in the lagoons and along the coast”.
Such in-depth studies as that of the BOKU University and PUT have not yet been conducted for the River Vjosa neither by state authorities nor by companies willing to build hidropower plants in the area. This study is in its preliminary stages and its results will be made public in the spring of 2019.
The effort of European scientists from Germany, Austria, Albania and Slovenia to defend the Vjosa River from the dam construction through the “Scientists for Vjosa” initiative aims to expand the knowledge and data on the Vjosa River Ecosystem with the aim of establishing a more strong in defense of the Vjosa River. The Sediment Study is being carried out by the BOKU University of Vienna, Austria.