Press release from Riverwatch, EuroNatur and EcoAlbania
Tirana, March 20, 2018. Scientists from Austria and Albania continue their studies in the Vjosa river – the last largest wild river in Europe. Today they held a press conference to present the findings from the expeditions carried out during 2017 in the Vjosa valley as well as the latest data from the field work. On March 15-19, 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 Mining Geology continued with the Study of River Sediments in the Vjosa Valley.
The study of the sediments will be carried out in several stages, through modern techniques, and will measure the flow and quality of the sediments of the Vjosa River. It will determine, in this way, the impacts that the construction of the dams will bring. On the other hand, these data will prove how effective the construction of dams is, considering the transported amount of sediments.
“The construction of dams along the entire Vjosa river basin must be based on a proper geological, geo-engineering, hydrogeological and sedimentological study. But, unfortunately, we do not have studies of this type until now. We can never think that we can build strategic facilities of this type without having sufficient information on the amount and type of sediments that will be deposited in the upper part of the dam and that strictly affect the lifespan of the dams,” said Dr. Klodian Skrame, from the Polytechnic University of Tirana.
Initial studies carried out earlier in Vjosa showed that the sediments trapped behind the planned dam will lead to a decrease in the level of groundwater, the alienation of lagoons, the loss of biodiversity values and the change of the coastline due to erosion.
“Albania has very high levels of erosion, 20-40 tons/ha per year”, stated Christoph Hauer, from BOKU University – “The authorities must take precautions to avoid a situation with multiple losses in Vjosa: (i) the loss of efficiency for the production of electricity due to sedimentation; (ii) the loss of the ecological integrity of the only large untouched river in Europe, (iii) the loss of the possibility for touristic use and fishing products in the lagoons and along the coast”.
Such in-depth studies have not yet been carried out for the Vjosa river, either by the state authorities or by the proponents of hydropower concessions on the Vjosa. This study is in its preliminary stages and the results of the study will be made public in the spring of 2019.
The effort of European scientists from Germany, Austria, Albania and Slovenia to protect the Vjosa River from the construction of dams, through the “Scientists for Vjosa” initiative, aims to expand knowledge and data on the Vjosa River Ecosystem, with the aim of creating a more argumentative basis strong in defense of the river Vjosa. The Sediments Study is being carried out by the BOKU University of Vienna, Austria.