German Upper Main case study

Introduction

Located in Bavaria, where a more traditional public top-down approach is used for water management. At the same time, Germany is striving for greater digitization of its authorities. Online engagement tools and citizen science can be a way to modernise water governance processes.

Moreover, the Upper Main study area is characterised by a strong interconnection of all WEFE aspects, where, however, stakeholders mainly communicate on a project-based level, without a fixed communication network.

In this sense, communication and knowledge are still fragmented among governing institutions and water users in the Upper Main. Due to the hydrological extremes (floods and droughts) that are affecting the study area more frequently in the last years, tensions among stakeholders are expected to increase (e.g., agricultural production is going to decrease due to water scarcity).

Therefore, there is an urgent need to overcome tensions among different water users, while ensuring environmental sustainability (e.g., riverine habitats are fundamental for multiple flora and fauna species).

A potential upscaling would be possible, in case the whole Main catchment (Upper and Lower) would be considered in the analysis, which would imply involving additional water authorities and federal states.

Context

The upper main catchment is located in the northern part of Bavaria in Germany, compare figure 1. The catchment has an area of 4.646 km2 (Gauge Kemmern) (Schaffhauser, T., 2017) and is characterized by an east-west slope reaching the highest elevations with 1042.99 m.a.s.l in the Fichtel Mountains. However, 75% of the area is located in lower elevations (Barth, et al., 2004). Soils with low storage capacity predominate (Schaffhauser, T., 2017) and the most common soil type is brown earth (Barth, et al., 2004). The largest part of the catchment area is used for agriculture and forestry with a proportion of 47.2 % and 43.2 % respectively, whereas 8.0 % of the area is sealed. The largest proportion of agricultural area (60.3 %) is not irrigated. As can be seen in figure 2 the upper main has two springs (white and red main) and several tributaries (Schaffhauser, T., 2017). In addition to more than 350 mini-Hydropower Plants, one hydropower plant has a capacity > 1MW (LfU,2023).

WATER EXTRACTION AND WATER USERS

Most of the public water supply is provided by groundwater (64.0 %), followed by spring water (16.1 %), surface water (18.6 %) and bank filtrate (1.4 %) (LfS, 2020). The main water users are households and small business (81.9 %). Whereas 18.1 % of the water is used by industry and others. (LfS, 2020).

EXISTING AND ARISING CHALLENGES

CONTRIBUTION

  • identify success factors of water governance schemes and monitor their impacts on the socio-economic and environmental welfare
  • evaluate the scope for scaling up successful water governance solutions (as e.g., governance practices, policy instruments, pricing policy policies)

METHODOLOGY & EXPECTED RESULTS

MOST IMPORTANT NATIONAL AND REGIONAL POLICY PRIORITIES

INSTITUTIONAL SETTINGS AND GOVERNANCE SCHEMES

DECISION-MAKING BODY(-IES) ON WATER ISSUES

  • Water law permits issued by:
    • district administrative authorities
    • with participation of public agencies, the public and the expert (usually the local Water Management Agency)
  • The technical principles based on DWA, DVWK, StMUV and LfU
  • Nationwide also International Commission for the Protection of the Rhine (ICPR) → coordination of implementation of Floods Directive and Water Framework Directive

    ECONOMIC INSTRUMENTS
    State economic instruments limited to subsidies for public water supply and wastewater disposal and charges for wastewater discharge.

    PARTICIPATION FROM CIVIL SOCIETY

    • Water cooperatives (in rural and sparsely populated areas, district of Hof and Bayreuth)
    • NGO’s (e.g. Nature conservation organizations like LBV, BN and WWF)

    EXPECTED OUTCOMES

    • Implementing WEFE-Nexus approach for water basin management
    • Mitigation of floods and droughts
    • Improvement of water supply and protection