Unsere Ötztaler Ache / Our Ötztaler Ache

March 29, 2020
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Stoppt den Staudamm in Tumpen / Stop the Tumpen Dam

The Ötztaler Ache the largest currently free-flowing river in Tyrol. Home to diverse riverine ecology, bank side alpine meadows and a mecca for white water kayakers from around the world. This jewel of Austrian rivers, previously home to the Sickline Extreme Kayaking World Championships is now threatened by multiple hydro power developments.

Petition Link, ACT NOW

There are estimated to be over 1 million dams fragmenting European rivers (Garcia de Leaniz, 2008) and the impact of this on biodiversity has been catastrophic. Populations sizes of freshwater species have declined by 81% in the period between 1970-2012 (Living Planet Report, WWF, 2016). This puts river and wetland as the most at threat ecosystems on the planet. The lose of such a large remaining natural river would be an environmental catastrophe.

More info here: Dam Removal Europe

What is Planned?

The Austrian utilities company TIWAG plans to dam and divert the water from 7 of the major tributaries of the Oetz and divert their flow through tunnels and out of the valley. 3 to feed the HEP plant in the Kühtai valley and 4 to the HEP at Kaunertal. In total 43% of the Ötztaler Ache’s catchment will be diverted out of valley. TIWAG also own a large share in the company building the Tumpen run of river hydroscheme currently under construction on the main Ötztaler Ache.

You can read more on these plans here: WILDWASSER ERHALTEN TIROL

The impact on the environment and recreational opportunities available on the Ötztaler Ache are stark. Studies by WWF show that these constructions are neither desirable nor necessary in order for Tyrol to meet its renewable targets:

“The Tyrolean goals for energy savings by 2050 are good and ambitious. However, the currently planned share of hydropower is excessively excessive and cannot be realized if Tyrol wants to take nature conservation seriously in the future. Our scenario and the goals of the state of Tyrol for the energy transition show that this is not even necessary. These hydropower plans are obviously relics from earlier times with different priorities. We reject climate protection arguments for excessive hydroelectric power today as a swindle on the label, ” WWF Austria

The Tumpen Hydro Scheme

Of immediate concern is the currently illegal construction of the Tumpen Hydro Scheme. Current plans would see the Achstürze Falls de-watered devastating this steep and ecologically unique section of waterfalls.

Also seriously affected would be the section of river immediately downstream. The world-renowned ‘Wellerbrücke’ rapids. Famous as the stage of the Sickline Extreme Kayaking World Championships. The upper section would run dry, and the lower section would no longer follow a natural flow regime – instead the levels would rise and fall according to how much energy the electricity company chooses to sell. The residents living near the planned reservoir in Tumpen are rightly concerned of the increased flood risk for Tumpen and Habichen and the siting of the planned reservoir within a mudflow area.

The impacts on ecology, landscape, recreational value and flood safety are huge. Far outweighing the benefits of the minimal amount of electricity the power plant would be able to produce – a mere 14.48 MW at maximum output.

Plans for the scheme can be seen here: Tumpen-Habichen Power Plant Oetztaler Ache

In mid-March 2020, construction work started suddenly. With legal proceedings unresolved and Corona virus measures keeping people under curfew, the diggers moved in.

WWF Austria has filed an appeal against the plant’s nature conservation permit with the Provincial Administrative Court and an appeal against the "wasserrechtliche Bewilligung" lodged with the Supreme Court (VwGH) is still pending. The local citizens' initiative "BI gegen Wasserkraftanlage Tumpen" also has an outstanding appeal with the VwGH regarding the permit.

Local citizens are outraged in the way construction was started. There’s been no public information, no construction negotiation, and they feel the developers’ raid-like speed has taken advantage of the Corona crisis curfews to keep those who would wish to protest at home. Legally, though, construction sites can carry on working – which leaves this project a done deal if we don’t act now.

A petition has been started by WET - Wildwasser Erhalten Tirol  and supported by the Free Rivers Fund, WWF Austria WWF Austria, the citizens' initiative "BI gegen Wasserkraftanlage Tumpen" and by us here at Save Our Rivers.

Please sign this here:

Petition Link, ACT NOW

Sylvie Adiba
No dam
For the love of nature and rivers
Simonetta Capelli
No dam
José Milán Tejeda
Ríos Libres, pueblos vivos.
Los ríos del planeta tienen que correr libres
Fuck dams
Saludos desde México.
Free rivers = healthy ecosystems
Baird Morrish
Proceeding to dam this river without public feedback is wrong!!! Do not dam this river!
Manuel saavedra
Feee Rivers!
jack Beadel
This is not a stepin the right direction
Rocco Ietto
Good Luck!
Dan Demsar Potza
Don’t destroy more rivers as you want
Conor McMorrow
Continuing with destroying ecosystems, natural habitats and natural sources in the supposed name of sustainable energy demonstrates a total lack of concern, understanding and basic human decency. Sustainable energy and living is the future, it can and should be done without destroying the planet we are trying to save.
Jared lord
Stop the dammmmmms
Erick Hernández
Do not destroy the wild please help us saving the rivers amd protecting animals
Zach ponevac
To whom it may concern,
There are estimated to be over 1 million dams fragmenting European rivers (Garcia de Leaniz, 2008) and the impact of this on biodiversity has been catastrophic. Populations sizes of freshwater species have declined by 81% in the period between 1970-2012 (Living Planet Report, WWF, 2016). This puts river and wetland as the most at threat ecosystems on the planet. The lose of such a large remaining natural river would be an environmental catastrophe. Please take time to consider halting construction and listening to the people.
Logan Kendricks
This free-flowing stream is an essential part of the ecosystem and the Oetz valley is a center for local and tourist recreation, river included. .
Sean McT
Using the shutdown to slide unpopular projects past the public is unethical and frankly disgraceful on more levels than one.
Yann Gelinas
This is a world renown river that I hope to one day run. Small dams are obsolete and shouldn’t be built anymore, especially not on pristine rivers.
Graham Busby
Believe the science that’s now available.
Fuck the damn dams
Mitchell Sheridan
Save our free flowing rivers! Please NO DAM!
Marco Barison
Stop that shit
Poor form. You have no right to defile a river that is been around longer than our species!
Robin Ahrens
Save the river!!!!
Olivia Murphy
Stop the Tumpen Dam!!
Gabe Vink Wackernagel
Protect this important ecosystem!! Love from New Zealand!
Emilio salaverri
Porfavor no hagan eso van a matar a unos de los mejores ríos del mundo y van a matar a toda la biodiversidad de ese rio. Uno de mis sueños es remar ahí y si hacen de nuevo el sickline es correr y ganar lo soy de Honduras y esa es mi meta no mates el río tiene que seguir fluyendo !
Trevor Harkness
Please leave the river flowing free!
Bryce Kinsey
Free flowing rivers are super important to me. They are the natural ecosystem and should not be messed with. There are plenty of sustainable alternatives to hydropower let’s as a global community choose those.
Savez Rivers
A damn will destroy animals homes,kayakers exercise and fun , affect the environment in a negative way such as pollution . There is many other ways to make energy for human use .
J’aimerais avoir un jour l’occasion de naviguer cette magnifique rivière, et qu’elle ne soit pas détériorée.
Max Blackburn
This project is unnecessary and the detriment to the environment and economy far outweighs the reward.
Knox Hammack
I am agains the Tumpens dam!
Grant Braun
This river is a destination dream for a lot of people. I plan to travel across the world to have the opportunity to paddle this river and recreate in the valley. Allow free flowing rivers.
Spencer Lawley
Get it together! Hydro is not renewable and it is not the way of the future. Get your shit together and do what’s right for the earth and her people, not some bullshit corporation.
Eric Levenson
As a fluvial geomorphologist, I would strongly argue that maintaining the physical integrity and flow regime provides more societal benefit than a dam. As a kayaker and potential tourist, I promise that I will never carry out my dream to travel to Oetz if the dam is constructed. That’s money that will never enter your community, and I’m not alone.
Why would you dam a river in the alps? Haven’t you already messed that mountain range up enough with civilizing it over the past thousands of year. Let nature do its thing for once.
James Byrd
Stop the building is this dam! We already know dams aren’t sustainable and terrible for the ecosystem around them.
Jacob liechty
Using a pandemic to build a dam is a very disonhorable thing to do.
Harry Taylor
Jonathan O'Connors
Please keep this river free of damns for the wildlife and many adventures that enjoy this area.
Semra Mahmutović
Eddie Blanch
Stop the trumpet dam
Emma Engelman
Stop the building of this dam!
Miha Mihelič
Emma Cole
Don’t take advantage of the your community in a time of crisis! Stop this dam!
Fechete Maria Elena
Stop building the dam
Jessica Ellis
Not good
Save the river
Jona Ellis
Save it.
Helen Nicholson
Stop damming the river
Aleix salvat cuevas
Free rivers
Michael Richter
Paddle free Rivers

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