Innovative and ecological approach for dam restoration for implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD)

Project Number 396

The banks of most water bodies used for HPP with dams are covered with wave breakers made of concrete not providing an ecological habitat. In the course of dam restoration old concrete surface is usually exchanged by new concrete elements without improving the environment for flora and fauna. When dams have to be elevated, the dam becomes broader on the landside, which increases land consumption and has an impact on the floodplain forests (usually Flora-Fauna-Habitat under FFH directive). The related approval procedures are time-consuming and cost for restoration and elevation of dams is high.

The core of the project approach is the implementation of eco-berms at the water side, which are matching the needs of dam stability, provide the basis for dam elevation and improve the ecological situation of the river banks. This approach shall be demonstrated at two HPP sites of the BEW Bayrische Elektrizitätswerke GmbH, Augsburg, Germany. At the water storage area in Offingen the new restoration approach will be implemented in a length of more than 500m. In Oberelchingen, the dam at the water storage area will be restored and additionally elevated by 70cm on a sector of more than 500m.

As an independent evaluator, the University of Innsbruck will analyse the ecological situation. The BEW will examine reliability of the dams and the eco-berm and will compare the economic efficiency to traditional approaches.

Recommendations will be developed for future approval procedures of eco-berms. Indicators will be defined, under which conditions simplified processes can be applied or a full planning approval procedure is necessary. The recommendations will be disseminated to relevant stakeholder on regional, national and EU-level.

For this purpose, the project is supervised by the VGB Technical Group Ecological Aspects of Hydro Power Plants, providing a link to European associations like EURELECTRIC or others. Distribution of results will be supported by dicussion in the VGB committees, presentations at VGB events and publications in the VGB PowerTech Journal.

The project is funded by the EU programme LIFE+.    396_Logo_lifei