For many decades the Lake Constance, Europe's largest lake, is heavily used for water sports and commercial navigation (e.g. there are more than 55.000 registered ships and boats). At the same time it is the drinking water reservoir for about 4,5 million inhabitants in Germany and Switzerland. Despite the fact that very strict environmental legislation is in place, these legal measures are not sufficient to reduce the water pollution. A key environmental problem of the Lake Constance therefore, is the pollution of the drinking water reservoir caused by the emissions of motorboats and biozidous underwater paintings (antifoulings). Furthermore, sports events, such as sailing regattas and other leisure activities are responsible for harmful pollution of the Lake Constance ecosystem.
The project "Sustainable Lake Constance - Water Protection through Environmental Technologies in Navigation" intended to maintain the drinking water quality by an effective reduction of the emissions caused by shipping and its related activities. The project aimed to contribute to an environmental oriented development of the shipping for the sustainable use of the Lake Constance by raising the environmental awareness amongst shippers and promoting the testing and use of modern environmental technologies in navigation. The project consisted of 4 subprojects: Subproject 1 “New Underwater Coatings”, which would reduce the negative effects on the water quality of underwater coatings for ships containing biocides. Subproject 2 “Model Yacht for a Model Region”, which would demonstrate newly developed environmentally friendly material and fittings and innovative environmental technology in a Model Yacht. Subproject 3 “Sailing Cup in support of Nature”, to develop measures and structures to minimise the environmental impacts of big sailing events. Subproject 4 “Exchange of experiences on international level”, to disseminate the project experiences to other Lake Regions in Europe.
With the project the beneficiary has succeeded in showing new ways of how to achieve an effective reduction of the emissions in the Lake Constance caused by shipping, through testing new technologies as well as awareness raising and information activities in the areas of: - New biocide-free types of underwater coatings for ships. - Environmentally friendly construction of yachts. - Organisation of environmentally friendly regattas on the Lake Constance. Through this, the project could promote a more environment oriented shipping on the Lake Constance and therefore could contribute to a more sustainable use of the natural and cultural landscape of the region. Furthermore, the project has contributed to a more extensive dissemination and experience exchange on a European scale on innovative issues of water and environment protection. The achievements of the four different subprojects are as follows: Subproject 1 “New Underwater Coatings” Within the project, the Lake Constance Foundation tested new coating systems in co-operation with the Lake Constance Sailing Association and the paint industry, publicised information about the relevant legal framework and conducted an extensive information campaign. A list of biocide-free types has been elaborated and is regularly updated. Subproject 2 “Model Yacht for a Model Region” The Engert Yacht chartering company, in co-operation with the beneficiary and other partners, equipped a new ship of its fleet with environmentally friendly material and fittings (e.g.. ash woods) and innovative environmental technology (on-board bio- diesel generator, electronic motor, detergent-free cleaning system, etc..) for use as a demonstration and test model. The feasibility of various environmental technologies underwent exemplary tests under regular business conditions (boat charter). The model yacht was presented as a demonstration ship and floating exhibition to the interested public at trade fairs, regattas and excursions. The experience gained with sailing ships could be transferred to motorised yachts as well as commercial navigation. Several ship builders on Lake Constance have employed the practical knowledge which has been gained through this project for the further development of their commercial operations. Subproject 3 “Sailing Cup in support of Nature” The annual Sail & Fun Cup regatta in Radolfzell in July has been an outstanding sports event in Lake Constance sailing for several years now. Within the project, the beneficiary, Lake Constance Foundation, developed an environmental management system for this event. The environmental management system, in the areas of traffic, waste, spectator services, refreshments as well as information for participants and spectators, demonstrated in an exemplary fashion how environmental impacts of big sailing events can be minimised. An environmental balancing of The Sail and Fun Cup 1998 and 2000 was undertaken and it was expected that the environmental management system would be applied to future big sailing events. Subproject 4 “Exchange of experiences on international level” The Lake Constance Foundation has conducted seminars, workshops and conferences on various topics relevant to the environment (solar technology, antifouling paints, water protection, sustainable economics). New developments were presented in co-operation with project partners at information stands directed to the public at the water sport fairs INTERBOOT in Friedrichshafen and BOOT in Dusseldorf, which are among the largest events in this area in Europe. Form an environmental point of view, the results achieved by the project are particularly interesting in view of a European-wide prohibition of anti-fouling paint with biocides. The campaign for the use of biozide-free coatings was continued after the project by the International Association for Water Sports of Lake Constance IWGB, an international umbrella organisation of the water sport associations in cooperation with the Lake Constance Foundation. The project’s sustainability and long-term effect was however – as in most mainly awareness oriented projects – not certain. It was doubtful to what extent the awareness raising and information activities would be followed by real change of behaviour of ship owners and other stakeholders. With regard to the resource-friendly yacht that has been developed, it was still open to question as to whether the demand for this type of yacht would increase. Since the model yacht was equipped with a very complex and for that reason also investment-intensive optimal energy supply system, it was not to be expected that the complete philosophy would be adopted for other ships in the short term. But some features could become standard, such as the bio-diesel generator, biocide-free hull coating and the cork deck surface. The results of the environmental management of the Sail and Fund Cup raised interest among several regatta organisers and the fact that a well-established yacht club participated in the project could be considered as important for the sustainability of the project. The project was covered widely in the media. Television, radio and the press reported regularly and extensively on individual events, but also on the progress of the project as a whole. The Foundation’s participation in the Global Nature Fund‘s international “Living Lakes“ network and the acclaim as worldwide project at the EXPO 2000 raised further awareness among the general and specialised public.