UNECE, UNEP Assess Environmental Health of Dniester River
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Two reports on fish and water quality in the Dniester River basin, jointly funded by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), have been launched underscoring “alarming” fish population declines and water quality problems in the lower course of the river.

27 March 2012: Two reports on fish and water quality in the Dniester River basin, jointly funded by the UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), underscore the “alarming” fish population declines and water quality problems in the lower course of the river.

The findings from the two reports have consequences for water ecosystems and water use in the Dniester basin. The Report on Moldovan-Ukrainian Joint Hydrochemical Expedition in the Dniester River in 2011 describes the outcomes of a July 2011 expedition, which collected information on water quality from 44 sites along the river. The findings demonstrate that the lower basin is polluted with hydrocarbons and pesticides, among other substances from wastewater and industrial discharges, agriculture and storage of toxic chemicals. The study found that the water quality could only be defined as good 150 km from its source. The Report recommends developing a long-term bilateral programme to reduce pollution, conducting basin wide water quality assessments every 5-6 years and signing the new treaty on the Dniester to define activities for a River Basin Organization (RBO).

The Report on Moldovan-Ukrainian Joint Field Research on Fish Fauna in the Lower Dniester Basin – 2011 describes the results of field research reviewing the status of fish fauna carried out during 13 field visits to collect data from 496 sites. The studies found that spawning conditions in 2011 on the Dniester were poor due to low water levels, which were caused by dyke construction, the schedule of water releases from the Dniester reservoir, sand and gravel extraction from the river bed and construction on flood plains. The Report underscores that this will result in declining populations and reports a 50% decline in the number of species found in the Dniester within the last 10 years. It further notes that commercial species are being replaced by invasive species. The Report recommends conservation of spawning habitats, compliance with ecological water release schemes from the Dniester reservoir, and banning gravel extraction, among other regulations. The Report also calls for joint projects of conservation of endangered species and a working group on sustainable use of fish fauna.

The reports were published in Russian with English summaries. [Summary of the Report on Moldovan-Ukrainian Joint Hydrochemical Expedition in the Dniester River in 2011] [Summary of the Report on Moldovan-Ukrainian Joint Field Research on Fish Fauna in the Lower Dniester Basin – 2011] [UNECE Press Release]

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