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Information On The Danube River Essay

1623 words - 7 pages

Introductory FactsThe Danube is the second longest river in Europe behind the Volga and the only major European river to flow from West to East. It takes its source in the Black Forest Mountains of Germany, and empties after 2850 km (1770 mi) in the Black Sea on the Romanian coast. Along its way, the Danube flows through nine countries (Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, and Ukraine) and drains an area slightly larger than 817,000 km2 (315,000 sq mi) over more than a dozen countries. The river is navigable by ocean vessels to Braila, Romania, and by river craft up to Ulm, Germany. About 60 of its 300 tributaries are navigable as well; the principal ones ...view middle of the document...

It provides a more direct and navigable link to the Sea. The Main-Danube Canal is perhaps the most important one. It was opened in 1992 to link the Danube to the Rhine, consequently providing a commercial route between the Black and North seas. This was a great idea as it cut the link from the North Sea to the Black and Mediterranean seas tremendously.The Danube is also used for power resources. Several countries have built dams and hydroelectric power plants on the River. These hydroelectric dams provide power for many countries along the course of the river. The major dam is the Iron Gate project, completed in the early 1970s. It involved both former Yugoslavia and Romania to construct a large hydroelectric power station. The project was actually composed of a dam and two power plants located at the Iron Gate Gorge, on the border of Romania and Serbia. Another large dam (the Gabcikovo dam) was built in southern Slovakia and completed in 1992.Industrial use of the Danube is mainly present in the major cities, namely Vienna, Budapest and Belgrade. The irrigated areas are in the second half of the river, especially in Hungary and Bulgaria, both countries for which agricultural economy is quite large. Fishing in the delta and in the river is well developed as the basin provides a marine habitat for more than 100 species of fish including some endangered species such as the sturgeon. However, the next section will show how the river has nearly become unfit for irrigation as well as for drinking water because of the lack of regulations and the increase in traffic and pollution.Current Environmental ConcernsThe Danube was once a great center for human daily life and at the same time a fabulous ecosystem with hundreds of species living in its waters or on its banks. Today, the most romantic river in the world no longer exists as such. The density of the local species has decreased to a point where several of the mammals, birds, and fish are endangered species, such as the white-tailed eagle, the black stork, the dalmatian pelican and, as mentioned earlier, the sturgeon. Because of human overuse and pollution, "the Danube now attracts raw sewage from cities, chemicals from agricultural run-off, waste from factories and bilge oil from ships. Much of this pollution is later washed up on coastal beaches, spreading disease and making them unsafe for residents and tourists alike. Chemicals in the water have killed much of the marine life and destroyed the Danube's fishing industry." (Lovatt) Unfortunately scientists and environmentalists have been able to study the full extent of the pollution only relatively recently, after the fall of Communism in 1989.Rivers in Romania and Hungary were hit by a spill of 100,000 m3 of toxic mining water containing cyanide. In Hungary, 200 tonnes of dead fish had to be taken from the river Tisza that empties into the Danube.An example of human negligence that lead to an environmental disaster is the following. On January...

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