Learning river conservation skills from other countries

For some time now, the consortium has participated in – and helped realize – an Interreg program called «NetWet 2.» The acronym stands for a long name: Networking Perspectives of Transnational Cooperation and Participatory Planning for Integrated Water Resources Management. The program deals with important problems in water management through the promotion of new forms of land use management. The program is financed jointly by communities (75 percent) and national sources (25 percent) and is addressed through EU Directive 2000/60/EK. Managing water resources The directive’s basic goal is the management of water resources – surface and underground – in order to secure the required portions and appropriate quality to meet people’s needs without harming the environment. At present, some methods are being applied to prevent and deal with drought and flooding. As a framework for water management, the directive defines a river basin. Determining this definition lays solid groundwork for the larger water management framework for EU member states. Greece has not yet determined these river basins under the directive’s definition. Greek officials in the consortium are currently trying to fill in those blanks. Specifically, the Greeks in the consortium want to create preconditions to promote something the EU calls a «river agreement,» which involves the use and management of a river basin and attempts to reconcile the various uses and functions of the water course, of its surroundings and of the water resources of the basin. During the international meetings of the consortium, which took place last March in Zakynthos and this past July in Varese, Italy, experience and know-how from France, Italy, Belgium and Germany was offered. The cleaning business «It’s striking the way the Germans approach the problem,» says Athina Ioannou, a TEDK development counselor in the northwestern Greek prefecture of Thesprotia. «After World War II, they dumped industrial sludge into the Escher, a tributary of the Rhine. For 15 years now, they have been following a 30-year program to clean up the river. They have created a parallel river bed to naturally cleanse the sludge. In 15 years, they will have not only a clean river, but a river which will develop many activities along its banks – bicycle paths, canoeing and kayaking, canteens and other tourism-enhancing activities.» Thesprotia is taking on an analogous problem in the Kalamas River. In 1998, the residents protested for 50 days over river pollution originating from waste in Ioannina. The protest spurred an agreement to clean the river basins of Ioannina. But insufficient pollution control continues. Regional governments are trying to procure machinery to measure the pollution levels in the sludge so industry and citizens can take the appropriate action. Essentially, Thesprotia wants its own «river agreement» for the Kalamas within the framework of the NetWet 2 program. TEDK Thesprotia has already recorded all the cultural, historical and environmental aspects of the Kalamas River. Along its length lie water mills and other sources of water-generated power which could be restored in order to draw in visitors. To a great extent, Interreg provides the initiative to create a basic design for works that can later be financed through other EU programs or through private sources.