A water route between the Baltic and the Black Sea is feasible, but an environmental evaluation is needed

These points were stated in a resolution adopted by the participants of the final conference of the project “Restoration of the E40 Waterway of the Dnieper-Vistula Section”. It took place in the Polish city of Lublin on December 16. The conference was preceded – on December 15 – by an ecological forum where around 70 specialists from Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine discussed potential environmental risks stemming from the development of river navigation between the Baltics and Black Sea.

Since the beginning of this year, an international consortium headed by the Maritime Institute in Gdansk has been studying the conditions for navigation along the waterway E40 that joins the ports of Gdansk and Kherson through the territories of Poland, Belarus, and Ukraine. However, the environmetalists believe that an additional analysis is needed to determine how the use of the E40 waterway will impact on the water regime and biodiversity of the rivers composing the route: Vistula, Western Bug, Pripyat, and Dnieper. Moreover, several areas along these rivers have been conserved, for instance, the Belarusian wildlife sanctuary “Srednyaya Pripyat” which is a Ramsar territory, i.e. a wetland of international importance.

Nevertheless, specialists of the Maritime Institute in Gdansk claimed that so far, they have prepared only preliminary results of the study, which, therefore, cannot contain a comprehensive assessment of the environmental issues. The international consortium headed by the Polish organization was analyzing the technical and economic factors of building a water canal bypassing the Western Bug. Today, this river cannot be used for navigation, while its substantial section is included in the EU’s environmental network Natura 2000.

A route of the prospective canal in Lublin voevodeship was viewed with favor by the Commission on the Development of the E40 Waterway on the Dnieper-Vistula Section, which convened in the middle of November, in Brest, Belarus. The length of the canal should be almost 160 kilometers, while the construction of hydrotechnical objects are assumed to cost around 2 billions euro. The bulk of the sum is expected to be provided by the European Union.

The representatives of the Maritime Institute in Gdansk also noted that the canal will be paid off in the course of 30 years. It should attract logistics companies from Poland, Belarus, Ukraine, and other European countries thanks to the lower costs of inland cargo transportation through rivers.

In addition to the creation of the canal, the study performed by the consortium envisages construction works on the Belarusian and Ukrainian sections of the E40 waterway. For the Ukrainin section, it outlines the need to modernize hydrotechnical objects on the Dnieper, as well as the Beloozersk water conducting system. For the Belarusian part of the E40 waterway, the study proposes constructing a number of waterworks on the Pripyat to regulate its flow and completing the reconstruction of the shipping locks on the eastern slopes of the Dnieper-Bug Canal, in accordance with the requirements of EU legislation.

The concerns voiced by the environmental organizations in Lublin were taken into consideration when compiling Resolution for Support of Measures Aimed at the Restoration and Development of the Main Waterway of International importance E40. Specifically, the document contains separate points calling to conduct a thorough evaluation of environmental impacts for the entire E40 connection and present measures how to combat negative environmental consequences.

The document was adopted by the Commission on the Development of the E40 Waterway on the Dnieper-Vistula Section, which consists of almost 80 participants from Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine: representatives of regional dministrations, NGOs, entrepereneurs, and scientists. The ecological forum was attended by delegates from more than 30 organizations.

The adoption of the resolution does not mean that construction works will ensue immediately. There are still many issues – and not only environmental ones – that require a more careful examination. Therefore, the consortium of experts will continue its work next year; their new results should be considered in spring,” – noted Nikolai Kotetski, Head of RUMCE Dnepro-Bug Waterway. – “However, environmental and economic research will be conducted even after that point. We need to collect all possible data for a better risks and benefists analysis. Despite the end of the project, the Commission on the Development of the E40 Waterway on the Dnieper-Vistula Section, will also continue to perform its duties: until the moment when an intergovernmental agrrement on the status of the waterway is signed between Belarus, Poland, and Ukraine.

The project “Restoration of the E40 Waterway of the Dnieper-Vistula Section” started in December 2013. The major part of the financing was provided by the European Union within the framework of the Cross-border Cooperation Programme Poland-Belarus-Ukraine 2007-2013.

The project was implemented by the following partners: Republican Unitary Maintenance and Construction Enterprise Dnepro-Bug Waterway (lead partner), Interakcia Foundation, Brest Regional (Oblast) Executive Committee, Marshal Office of Lublin Voivodeship, Association for Regional and Local Development Progress, Volyn Regional Department of Water Resources, Volyn Association of Scientists and Innovators.

More about the project: http://e40restoration.eu/en/

Project on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/groups/e40restoration/

Andrei Rekesh, Secretary of the Commission on the development of the Dnieper-Vistula waterway,
tel.: +375 165 30 11 76, fax: +375 165 35 16 74, mobile: +375 44 785 13 58, e-mail:
Marina Borisowa, Project Communication and Visibility Manager (Interakcia Foundation),
tel./fax: +375 172 37 48 40, mobile: +375 29 873 35 82, e-mail: borisova@eu-belarus.net

The contents of this publication are the sole responsibility of RUMCE “Dnepro-Bug Waterway” and can in no way be taken to reflect the views of the European Union.

Project “Restoration of the E40 waterway on the Dnieper-Vistula section: from strategy to planning”

This project is funded by the European Union

RUMCE «Dnepro-Bug Waterway»
Lenina Sq. 20, Pinsk, 225710, Belarus
Tel./fax: +375 (165) 35 16 74