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Potential wastewater pollution of the Danube due to shipping

Ship on the Danube

© Ursula Lair

Due to repeatedly expressed suspicions that Danube navigation leads to significant fecal microbiological pollution, a special investigation program for the Danube was developed. In a joint study of ICC Water & Health and the Province of Lower Austria, the fecal pollution situation was investigated.


As a baseline it could be shown that navigation has a high pollution potential if proper wastewater treatment measures are not implemented.


However, during the study period March 2019 to November 2020, no evidence of influences of shipping on the regional water quality of the Danube was found. Treated wastewater from municipal wastewater treatment plants represented the main factor influencing the baseline fecal microbiological load of the Lower Austrian Danube for this period, which was amplified by increasing tributary flows and precipitation.


Proper wastewater treatment measures (functioning ship sewage treatment plants, disposal of wastewater) as well as strict controls are a prerequisite for Danube navigation to continue to have no detectable regional effect on the microbiological water quality of the Danube.


>> Short report to province of Lower Austria


The ICC Water & Health
is a Cooporation of:

Technische Universität Wien
Medizinische Universität Wien
Karl Landsteiner Privatuniversität für Gesundheitswissenschaften