LIFE Project Cover Photo

LIFE IP Integrated River Solutions in Austria

Reference: LIFE17 IPE/AT/000006 | Acronym: LIFE IP IRIS AUSTRIA



The Water Framework Directive and the Floods Directive determine the future of rivers in Austria. Their implementation has led to 2 separate national programmes of measures. These are laid down in the RBMP (River Basin Management Plan) and the FRMP (Flood Risk Management Plan) which aim to achieve the specific objectives of each directive. The contents and aims of both are different and sometimes even contradictory. Article 9 of the FD explicitly states that Member States shall take appropriate steps to coordinate the application of the FD and WFD, focusing on opportunities to improve efficiency, exchange information and achieve common synergies and benefits with respect to the environmental objectives stemming from the WFD. In Austria, both programmes of measures are currently coordinated with each other at national level. However challenges exist to coordinate the planningprocesses at regional level or river basins level. The foremost problem is that flood control measures of the past, with their often hydro-morphological alterations, are todays most pressing threat to the ecological aims of the WFD; 80% of the Areas of Potential Significant Flood Risk miss the WFD requirements. The responsible Provincial Water Engineering Administrations (Wasserbauverwaltungen) and the Water Management Planning Bodies (Wasserwirtschaftliche Planungsorgane) face the challenge of coordinating and harmonising the national requirements from the FRMP and the RBMP for river basins on both regional and multi-regional level as efficiently and adequately as possible. Coordinating water protection measures (as set down in the RBMP) with those for the protection of people from water-related hazards (as set down in the FRMP) is extraordinarily challenging in Austria.


The overall objective of the LIFE IP IRIS AUSTRIA project is to elaborate, test and successfully implement the River Development and Risk Management Concepts (GE-RMs) which address the challenge of streamlining flood protection according to the FD and ecological river restoration as required in the WFD. GE-RMs will be tested in selected pilot regions as an integrative planning instrument to implement national plans in accordance with EU environmental policies (RBMP and FRMP). The project is expected to have a strong policy impact, because in the medium to long term GE-RMs will be developed for all relevant rivers in Austria. The GE-RM planning instrument will be applied to7 pilot regions. The project will develop interdisciplinary, cross-border concepts for measures, including a priority ranking of the individual measures in accordance with the various objectives of the pilot regions (RBMP, FRMP, Natura 2000, Austrian Floodplain Strategy etc.). Another objective is to establish integrated monitoring following implementation of these river development measures. LIFE IP IRIS AUSTRIA aims to develop and test new common indicators which can evaluate the effects of combined measures in a holistic way. Among other purposes, these would help improve the ecological situation in connection with flood protection and the impact on ecosystem services. The expected results of the LIFE IP IRIS project comprise:

  • seven River Development and Risk Management Concepts (GE-RMs) for the seven pilot regions, of which 3 cross Austrian provincial borders (borders of federal states). The total length of the river stretches considered in the project is around 594 km;
  • a study and strategy paper on National Implementation Strategy for GE-RMs in Austria;
  • detailed plans and permits to implement pilot measures in the pilot regions;
  • concrete implementation of GE-RM pilot measures in five pilot regions;
  • about 20 networking meetings for the project partners and persons involved in developing and implementing GE-RMs;
  • participation of multipliers to implement and disseminate results: about 50 persons who are directly involved in the LIFE IP IRIS AUSTRIA and responsible for implementing RMBP and FRMP in Austria;
  • dissemination of results: about 200 persons involved indirectly through measure-planning and implementation (administration, experts,engineering offices, municipalities, stakeholder representatives, etc.);
  • participation of multipliers to disseminate results at international level. For example, the ICPDR (International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River) will be involved as a stakeholder in the GE-RM Danube;
  • monitoring results from the pilot regions;
  • GE-RM Guidelines 2.0: at the end of the project recommendations and lessons learned are available with the support of all the partners; and
  • public relations work: website, LIFE information boards at construction sites, media relations work, press conferences with the involved partners, and a laymans report at the end of the project.
  • In addition to the IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of approx. 461 million of complementary funding from the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development (EAFRD), the federal act on funding hydraulic structures (WBFG) and the budget for maintenance and river restoration projects on the Danube.


    Reference: LIFE17 IPE/AT/000006
    Start Date: 01/12/2018
    End Date: 31/12/2027
    Total Eligible Budget: 16,532,640 €
    EU Contribution: 9,919,584 €
    Project Location:


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Bundesministerium für Landwirtschaft, Regionen und Tourismus
    Legal Status: PUBLIC
    Address: Österreich
    Contact Person: Helena MHLMANN
    Email: Send Email

    LIFE Project Map



    • River basin management
    • Freshwater
    • Resilient communities


    • freshwater ecosystem
    • risk management
    • flood protection
    • river management
    • climate change adaptation


    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)
    • Directive 2007/60 - Assessment and management of flood risks (23.10.2007)