LIFE+ Traisen project progress in June 2014: The middle-west construction section is complete. The meandering of the river is clearly visible.

Traisen renaturation:
A river gets into shape

24 July 2014

The Traisen makes its way straight towards the Danube. The riverbed lies almost dead straight in the landscape. Around 41 protected fish species make their journey to the spawning grounds every year. There is hardly any time to take a breather: the Traisen is one of the most heavily regulated rivers in Europe. Little remains of the original floodplain landscape. In keeping with the state of the art in the 1970s, the Traisen was given no opportunity to develop during the construction of the Altenwörth power plant. A detailed expert plan is now to turn the Traisen back into a river. The first construction phase - an approximately 2-kilometer-long bend section - was opened at the beginning of July.

To mark the completion of the "Mitte-West" section, VERBUND hosted a ground-breaking ceremony with Provincial Councillor Stephan Pernkopf, Zwentendorf Mayor Hermann Kühtreiber, Plant Group Manager Heinz Allmer and Managing Director Michael Amerer from VERBUND Hydro Power GmbH as well as Provincial Fisheries Minister Karl Gravogel. Their common goal for 2020: a curved bypass channel should restore the Traisen to its original appearance and make it easier for fish to pass.

"It's been 15 years since my colleagues and I came up with the idea of renaturalizing the Traisen as part of a WWF project - but with a project of this size, the high costs and infrastructure are difficult to manage alone," explains BOKU Professor Mathias Jungwirth at the launch event, thanking the supporters. Planning has been underway for ten years and the project was successfully submitted to the EU in 2008. With the support of VERBUND, money from the EU Life+ Fund, the Niederösterreichischen Fischereiverband, Landschaftsfonds Niederösterreich, via donau, BMLFUW and the Bundeswasserbauverwaltung NÖ, the project was given the long-awaited go-ahead in 2009. 

The straight riverbed has so far offered hardly any resting areas for aquatic life. But even current-loving fish species need their breaks. In future, fish will once again find protection from rapids in the shade of special trees. The trees have been relocated and anchored with steel cables to promote the development of young fish in particular and help to revitalize the watercourse. In addition to fish ecology measures, the project also included the planning of new cycle paths. The former Danube cycle path now runs undisturbed through Lower Austria's first cycle tunnel.

Ground-breaking ceremony for the opening of the first section of the Traisen. In the center: Mathias Jungwirth.

The project on the Traisen recently made headlines when the construction site had to be cleared of sensitive war materials. Up to 4.5 thousand items were found on the construction site. A 70-kilogram aerial bomb was the largest find to date.