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Controlling Temperature and Oxygen in rivers with diversion plants

Reference: LIFE21-CCA-DE-CONTEMPO/101073824 | Acronym: LIFE21-CCA-DE-CONTEMPO

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

LEW operates seven hydroelectric power plants alongside the Lech canal and at the lower Lech River between the towns of Ellgau and Feldheim in Germany. Together, these produce approximately 412 million kWh of climate-neutral electricity each year – sufficient for over 120 000 households. Flood protection and the maintenance of dams and dykes on these river sections are also part of LEW's responsibilities. Governed by the individual operational licenses, LEW is also responsible for the maintenance of various fluvial and meadow areas. Due to climate change, periods of low water with rising water temperatures occur more frequently, while flooding events also happen more often. Declining groundwater levels, which are a consequence of extended dry periods, jeopardise alluvial forests with their sensitive habitats, often home to endangered species. What level of residual water is required in the original riverbed is often discussed between the experts of the hydroelectric power plants and those of environmental protection agencies, especially under conditions of changing precipitation patterns or drought periods; as to whether the avoidance of damage to local fauna and flora or continued electricity production is the key objective. So far, the permissions for the operation of hydropower plants, with their static regulations, do not reflect the challenges of climate change. Currently, hydropower providers have to reduce or even stop energy production to provide the environmentally necessary residual amount of water in the natural riverbed. This leads to less renewable energy generation and a loss in revenues. There is a need to develop an approach that reacts dynamically to local circumstances and changing water volumes.


OBJECTIVES

The CONTEMPO project will develop and test an innovative and dynamic water management approach to balance hydroelectric power generation and environmental protection in the Lech River and Canal (Germany) in an optimal way. The project aims to ensure the generation of energy through hydropower, even during dry periods, while maintaining the biodiversity of riverine landscapes already achieved through the implementation of the Water Framework Directive. Therefore, the project aims to directly mitigate the consequences of climate change, i.e. by connecting existing and re-created floodplains, by preserving groundwater sites, or utilising shading and diversification to minimise the warming of the river and connected water bodies (including those in two Natura 2000 sites). Moreover, the project’s goal is also to gather the scientific and practical knowledge necessary to enable an active management of such a water system.

 

Specifically, the project aims to:

  • Secure 12.5 million kw/h of regenerative electric power, otherwise lost due to low water levels caused by climate change.
  • Preserve existing tributaries and headwater streams, whose habitats would otherwise be lost due to climate change (e.g. the Höhgraben over a length of 4.5 km).
  • Protect and ecologically-enhance 14.7 km of alluvial water bodies, which will lead to approximately 37 000 m2 of permanently covered watercourse area. Furthermore, 213 000 m2 of floodplain area will be reactivated by flooding/fluctuation.
  • Re-activate around 96 ha of dried-up floodplain areas by re-watering.
  • Create refuges for the many fish species in the Lech that are dependent on cold and oxygen-rich water, especially during periods of excessive heat and drought, by depth variations in and shading of these water bodies.
  • Build a groundwater body that helps to dampen future critical heat/drought phases.


RESULTS

Expected results:

  • The main expected outcome will be a management plan that regulates when and how much water can be used for hydroelectric energy production, and when water must be added dynamically to the floodplain system to protect the aquatic fauna and local fish populations from dangerously high temperatures in the Lech River.
  • The minimum residual flow of water will be regulated on the basis of real-time measurement of data, such as water levels, water temperatures, and oxygen levels. The water outflows will be actively controlled to keep the river ecosystem within an environmentally non-critical range.
  • At the same time, citizens will gain access to the river as a recreation area. Residents and visitors will be informed about the impact of climate change on the local water bodies, and appropriate adaptation measures.
  • A demonstration of suitable solutions and support to incorporate those in future guidelines and recommendations for action at regional, national, and EU level. To this end, the project team develops procedures for the application of flexible agreements on the minimum water flow at diversion power plants, which can be incorporated into the permits of diversion hydropower operators across the EU.

ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


Reference: LIFE21-CCA-DE-CONTEMPO/101073824
Acronym: LIFE21-CCA-DE-CONTEMPO
Start Date: 01/09/2022
End Date: 31/08/2027
Total Eligible Budget: 5,141,906 €
EU Contribution: 3,085,144 €

CONTACT DETAILS


Coordinating Beneficiary: LEW WASSERKRAFT GMBH
Legal Status: PRIVATE
Address: SCHAEZLERSTRASSE 3, 86150, Augsburg,
Contact Person: Tobias KIPP
Email: Send Email
Website: Visit Website


LIFE Project Map

ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

THEMES

  • River basin management
  • Water quality improvement
  • Water scarcity and drought
  • Climate change
  • Renewable energies
  • Freshwater

KEYWORDS

  • drought
  • early warning system
  • environmental assessment
  • flood control
  • freshwater ecosystem
  • environmental management
  • flood plain
  • groundwater
  • hydropower
  • management planning
  • monitoring
  • restoration
  • river management
  • conflicting use
  • water monitoring
  • water quality
  • water resources management
  • wetland ecosystem
  • water catchment area
  • aquatic ecosystem
  • biodiversity
  • barrier removal
  • climate resilience
  • environmental awareness
  • site rehabilitation
  • water supply
  • renewable energy
  • river restoration

TARGET EU LEGISLATION

  • Recast Directive 2018/2001/EU (DIRECTIVE (EU) 2018/2001 OF THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT AND OF THE COUNCIL of 11 December 2018 on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (recast)
  • 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)
  • Directive 92/43 - Conservation of natural habitats and of wild fauna and flora- Habitats Directive (21.05.1992)
  • Directive 2009/28 - Promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources (23.04.2009)

NATURA 2000 SITES

Code Name Type Version
Lechauen nördlich Augsburg DE7431301 SCI/SAC v.2021
Höh-, Hörgelau- und Schwarzgraben, Lechbrenne nördlich Augsburg DE7531371 SCI/SAC v.2021

PARTNERSHIPS

Name Type
LEW WASSERKRAFT GMBH Coordinator
LANDSCHAFTSPFLEGEVERBAND STADTAUGSBURG E.V. Participant
FISCHEREIVERBAND SCHWABEN EV Participant
UNIVERSITAET AUGSBURG Participant
STADT GERSTHOFEN Participant
KATHOLISCHE UNIVERSITAT EICHSTATT-INGOLSTADT Participant
TECHNISCHE UNIVERSITAET MUENCHEN Participant