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Danube water levels 2023 and similar topics - plus tips and info


notamermaid
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Sometimes when it rains, it pours. Now happening on the upper Danube and the Canal. Neither rain, snow, frost nor flooding are the problem, but now added to the accident in the lock there is a warning strike for the personnel involved in the maintenance. Over this weekend the union has called for strike action, just when the scheduled work was supposed to begin. Scheduled maintenance means that all traffic lights at the locks are on red, no ships are allowed to use them, the chambers will be run dry and a few gates will be replaced as well. This is planned to end on 31 March. Needless to say there is now a slight worry that work may not be completed in time.

 

This is the German press release: https://www.wsa-donau-mdk.wsv.de/Webs/WSA/Donau-MDK/DE/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/SSP_2023.html

 

notamermaid

 

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At Kelheim the Canal meets the Danube. I mentioned in post #19 that you cannot explore the first 500km of the Danube by motorboat. That means neither river cruise ship ,nor excursion boat, nor private small yacht. With a tiny exception and that is at Kelheim. Upstream from the town is the Donaudurchbruch bei Weltenburg, a gorge so stunning it needs mentioning. From Kelheim you can take an excursion boat just a few kilometres upstream to see the gorge and the abbey there. This is a special agreement with the authorities (and it appears criticized by environmental institutions) as the area is under strict protection due to its status as a nature reserve.

 

The gorge: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Danube_Gorge_(Weltenburg)

 

The abbey and church: https://www.kloster-weltenburg.de/en/abbey-church/

 

The boats: https://www.schifffahrt-kelheim.de/

 

notamermaid

 

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I'm not familiar with the Rhine and Danube, though having a selfish interest as I'm on a Travelmarvel cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest in August.  Can you tell me what ability there is to dam excess water in the Rhine or Danube systems during periods of plenty which can be released later during summer when levels tend to drop?

 

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As far as I can tell virtually non, these are huge rivers the land area required above at the sides or below would be prohibitive. Some of the challenge is not necessarily the amount of water as the type of ground it flows over, rocks the cost won’t work and as the rivers are used so much for trade the stoppages would make it even less cost effective. 
The old canal boatmen in the U.K. had a way of putting it - the bottoms coming up to meet the top - just add the rural accent.

The locks control the flow to a certain extent but cannot work miracles. 

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11 hours ago, reeves35 said:

I'm not familiar with the Rhine and Danube, though having a selfish interest as I'm on a Travelmarvel cruise from Amsterdam to Budapest in August.  Can you tell me what ability there is to dam excess water in the Rhine or Danube systems during periods of plenty which can be released later during summer when levels tend to drop?

 

That is an interesting question. I am tentative with an answer, but generally I would agree with Canal archive. I will admit though that I am not familiar with the Danube past Budapest. The Rhine does it automatically, kind of retain water I mean - Lake Constance is the natural reservoir.

 

notamermaid

 

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So how are things at Geisling lock? Here is the report from this morning: https://www.br.de/nachrichten/bayern/gesunkenes-frachtschiff-taucher-inspizieren-schiffswrack,TYSDzpM

 

Video of last night says that the ship sank like a stone in seconds, there is no evidence of it having hit anything, all was normal procedure until it just basically started disappearing under water. The Diesel swimming on the water surface had been pumped off during the day (Monday). This means this morning the water level could be lowered so that divers can safely inspect what the situation is under water. The chamber is deep, meaning the water's depth is 11 meter which is too much for safe diving. Depending on how things go, the rescue operation could take some time. After today's inspection, the next steps will be decided. First all the water has to go, then the load needs to be hauled from the ship, then the ship taken out of the chamber. I guess the question is how, it does not sound as if the barge will be in any decent condition...

 

notamermaid

 

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8 hours ago, notamermaid said:

That is an interesting question. I am tentative with an answer, but generally I would agree with Canal archive. I will admit though that I am not familiar with the Danube past Budapest. The Rhine does it automatically, kind of retain water I mean - Lake Constance is the natural reservoir.

 

notamermaid

It is interesting .  Here is Australia, we only have one major river system that is used for transport of any kind, the Murray Darling with the basin of the Murray Darling system being over 1M square kilometres.  Due to how dry Australia is, The Murray has a series of locks and dams over its length to keep the river navigable over most of its 1500 km. The Darling River doesn't have the same amount of dams and often runs dry during periods of drought.

 

 

MurrayDarling.JPG

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26 minutes ago, reeves35 said:

Here is Australia, we only have one major river system that is used for transport of any kind, the Murray Darling with the basin of the Murray Darling system being over 1M square kilometres.

Thanks for the map. Quite different from Rhine and Danube I would say. Both the Rhine and the Danube basin are fed by water from the Alps and the springs/ground water and rain water that come with the other tributaries from the other hills and mountains. Plenty of moisture throughout the year, just sometimes a bit too little...Our weather is essentially made high up over the North Atlantic. In 2018 there was an unusual shift in the general weather pattern up there, which led to the catastrophically hot and dry autumn of that year.

 

The Rhine system and the Danube system are right next to each other and both rivers are in the grand scheme of things, i.e. the distances you are used to in Australia, just a stone's throw from each other. Here is the map of the systems as they relate to Germany: Deutschland_Flussgebietseinheiten.png

The funny looking light blue blob at the bottom is Lake Constance.

 

The red line separating Rhine and Danube is also the European watershed. That is an interesting topic we should talk about again, especially since you are going to traverse that on the "Grand European" itinerary, as I tend to call all Amsterdam to Budapest (or reverse) sailings.

 

notamermaid

 

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Yes  I am looking forward to the climb that take us up over the continental divide.  Apparently we will go through over 60 locks so they'll probably start out very exciting and end up very mundane. 

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1 hour ago, reeves35 said:

Yes  I am looking forward to the climb that take us up over the continental divide.  Apparently we will go through over 60 locks so they'll probably start out very exciting and end up very mundane. 

Cue Gertrude Stein:  "a lock is a lock is a lock..."

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Don’t agree - then I wouldn’t doing my job. We hold some of John Rennie’s specifications some on locks, fascinating. On one cruise we were stuck in a lock, no danger but fascinating to those not familiar with them, my DH did enjoy explaining the situation. 

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I think for me with locks it is that the novelty and excitement go but the fascination stays. Although I live here surrounded by many waterways, I only had a vague memory of huge river locks from teenage years before I went on my Danube river cruise in 2013.

 

As a side note to dams and rivers: there is a river in Germany that is quite different from the other major ones - the Weser. When it is born it already is a German Federal waterway as it is made up of two almost equally big rivers joining and becoming the Weser. Apart from locks it actually has a huge dam and reservoir above one of its two source rivers that is used to regulate the level throughout the year.

 

notamermaid

 

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With more rain sweeping over the Danube basin in Germany we see another rise in river levels. Crucial is the bridge at Passau, yet there the level fell a little during the morning. Another wave is coming, Pfelling has risen to 444cm. This fast rise does not automatically translate into a similar rise at Passau due to the geography there and the lock at Vilshofen. Passau forecast suggests it will stay well below any problematic figures.

 

notamermaid

 

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Things are going well at Geisling lock under the circumstances. The water level was lowered by six metres and the divers sent down to the barge. Meanwhile a specialist barge with digger had arrived. This has been lightening the load since this morning. The wheelhouse of the barge has now reappeared, see photo: https://www.br.de/nachrichten/bayern/gesunkenes-frachtschiff-taucher-inspizieren-schiffswrack,TYSDzpM

 

It is not clear yet if the barge can be manoeuvred out of the chamber in one or in several parts. The whole procedure with damage assessment to the chamber could still take two weeks.

 

notamermaid

 

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23 minutes ago, Daisi said:

Just curious, will this interfere with the cruises starting up, or is it in a more industrial area?

It is a normal lock on the Rotterdam to Black Sea route, i.e. every ship passes through here. More specifically, the district is Pfatter, the coordinates are 48° 58.635' N 12° 20.629' E .

 

In this video, the gentleman says that they are lucky somewhat that this has happened when the locks are all out of use anyway. By the time the maintenance work is done on the other locks, this one at Geisling needs to be free again so that it does not become the bottleneck, i.e. blockage between Regensburg and Straubing for all river traffic: https://www.pnp.de/nachrichten/bayern/havariertes-schiff-in-der-schleuse-geisling-bergung-laeuft-sehr-gut-10738262

 

For now it should not affect any river cruises. I assume that all river cruise ships are in position, seeing that maintenance schedules are known well in advance.

 

notamermaid

 

 

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About the European watershed. This does not only divide Rhine and Danube but much more of course. You can read up on it but for the purpose of river cruising on that stretch of the Main Danube Canal I fond the wikivoyage page very good: https://en.wikivoyage.org/wiki/Main-Danube_Canal

It also has a height profile you can print out and that if you are really into locks. Interesting on that are the two water supply markings Rothsee and Dürrlohspeicher. They additionally help the Canal maintain its water level.

 

The page says under Schleuse Hilpoltstein: "The surface of the water between this and the next Schleuse reaches a height of 406 m (1,332 ft), the highest point directly reachable from the ocean on a seagoing vessel in the world." Seagoing vessel? I mean, they are too big for the canal!? I had to think about that one for a bit. These days I do not think that any such vessels go far inland on the Rhine, but historically the first ever vessels to sail up the Rhine with an engine came across the English channel. One could have a small coastal barge or yacht these days and go along Waal, Rhine, Main into the Canal. You just need to know the dimensions of your ship, including the draft, and any regulations that apply.

 

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Scenic Gem was actually delivered from her build yard in the Netherlands out across the Chanel along the English coast and when opposite the mouth of the Seine turned left back across La Manche into the river and on to Rouen. Suitably marinised of course she had to be built capable of sea going to get the required agreements to cruise into Honfluer, I think that there are at least two other river cruise companies with the same specifications. I wonder at the people who take a flat bottomed narrowboat across the Chanel although around the world there are the most amazing boats in the strangest places.

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The CroisiEurope's La Belle de Cadix is an interesting vessel that is both allowed to sail the Spanish rivers and the coastal areas: https://www.croisieurope.com/destination/bateaux-guadalquivir-guadiana

With 110m by 11.40m she is of the modest size that can sail many rivers and with the standard low draft of river cruise ships she would certainly make it to the Main Danube Canal if she ever came to the colder shores of the North Sea from her home in Spain...

 

notamermaid

 

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10 hours ago, notamermaid said:

The page says under Schleuse Hilpoltstein: "The surface of the water between this and the next Schleuse reaches a height of 406 m (1,332 ft), the highest point directly reachable from the ocean on a seagoing vessel in the world." Seagoing vessel? I mean, they are too big for the canal!? I had to think about that one for a bit. These days I do not think that any such vessels go far inland on the Rhine, but historically the first ever vessels to sail up the Rhine…

 

Imagine what the original Vikings could have done if the canal had already been built!!!

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13 minutes ago, Host Jazzbeau said:

Imagine what the original Vikings could have done if the canal had already been built!!!

Oh, yes! Oh, nooo!! No one on mainland Europe would have been safe. They were happy to raid along the Rhine and Moselle already.

 

notamermaid

 

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Im not entirely sure how the current ships use some stretches of the Main.  I remember waking up and eating breakfast (the restaurant on AMA ships is on first deck, the windows about a foot over the waterline) and not seeing much more clearance the the shore than I would expect something of that size to have on the "not much more than a creek" river that runs near my house.  In fact at one point we managed to run over a large enough branch that it rotated up and splashed the ship.

 

But the Main in incredibly controlled, thats apparent looking at the water levels in the locks vs where the "top" is.

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18 hours ago, CastleCritic said:

But the Main in incredibly controlled, thats apparent looking at the water levels in the locks vs where the "top" is.

The Main, different from the Danube and Rhine, is controlled for its entire length as a German federal waterway by locks. River cruisers will never see the uncontrolled Main unless they go on an excursion (or on a tiny boat). Here is the Main in the context of navigable rivers (the map is international and by the institution designed to be in German, English and Russian):

image.png.c8ce567278c55ac6a56c1ee5cb7bc365.png

The black arrow lines are the locks. You can see the light blue stretches of the free-flowing Rhine and Danube. You can see the young Main going around the word Bamberg as a thin blue line.

 

While the Main is so much narrower in many stretches than the Rhine the fact that it is controlled and as deep - in parts deeper - makes it a more reliable waterway as regards water levels.

 

notamermaid

 

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Update from Geisling lock

 

880 tons of the 1100 tons of iron ore have been unloaded from the barge. Although the original plan was to get all the load, it was decided after this press release: https://www.wsa-donau-mdk.wsv.de/Webs/WSA/Donau-MDK/DE/SharedDocs/Pressemitteilungen/PM3_Havarie_SchlGeisling2023.html to abandon the rest. I cannot link the updated info from a local newspaper.

 

The water level will now be reduced to 2 metres for a part of the chamber, i.e. a chamber within the chamber will be created and the ship further inspected. They are very careful about not spilling Diesel or oil unnecessarily into the environment. Then a decision will be made as how to deal with the ship itself.

 

notamermaid

 

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That could have gone so much worse, imagine if it had happened on the approaches to the lock rather than in an already man made coffer dam.

 

Keeping an eye on this for no good reason, scheduled to leave on the AmaMagna in a month from Budapest (to Bucharest)...like I said no good reason, AmaMagna is already on the river and she never goes that far up the river (Vilshofen is the turnaround) but it would certainly affect some of the other traffic Viking for one who often uses Regensburg I believe.

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