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Problems caused by river weirs with special attention to the Saale River

, : Problems caused by river weirs with special attention to the Saale River. Nova Acta Leopoldina 84(319): 149-156

The natural beneficial effects of free flowing rivers and their fluctuating water levels are adversely and permanently affected by the building of weirs. Using the lower Saale river as an example, it is shown that the negative effects are much larger for river stretches of low slope and with few floods during the vegetation period such as the Elbe and lower Saale rivers, than for Alpine fed rivers with their higher slope and a flooding primarily in spring and summer. Plans exist, which intend to re-enlarge the amplitudes of groundwater fluctuations diminished by weirs through feeding- and withdrawal-wells. So far, no sound knowledge and long-term experience exist, that these or other methods of groundwater management could restore the essential high groundwater fluctuations in the long run. The critical pollution load of the Saale (water quality class II-III) combined with the increased load of suspended matter during floods complicate the feeding process and increase the technical and financial costs. Moreover, the negative effects of impoundment and weirs to nature and landscape are so different that even a possibly successful groundwater management could never lead to the functional compensation for the remaining disadvantages.


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