Dhe relatively dry winter puts shipping on the Oberweser into an exceptional situation. Due to low water, the river has to be supported with water from the Edersee in northern Hesse in January. That is unusual for this time of year, said a spokesman for the waterways and shipping office in Hann in Lower Saxony. Münden. The problem: the Edersee is also comparatively empty. Without heavy rainfall, the conflict over the reservoir water could worsen.
The water is a political issue. Because on the one hand it is important for tourism and water sports in the North Hessian holiday region. On the other hand, it should also flow into the Upper Weser via Eder and Fulda. There are ferries, ship transports and tourist shipping.
Hold water in the Edersee for a long time
That is why there has been a struggle for years about how much water flows through the dam at what time. The usual procedure: in winter the lake fills up. In the summer, the water is then gradually released. The current strategy is to keep water in the Edersee for as long as possible. Lower water levels of 1.15 meters are accepted for the Weser.
But this economy mode is already necessary in winter. The Edersee was only 35 percent full recently. That corresponded to around 70 million cubic meters of water. According to the Waterways and Shipping Office, it was twice that amount a year ago.
Rolf-Jürgen Foellmer cannot remember a situation like this. He is chairman of the Oberweser / Eder-Diemelsee interest group in Holzminden, Lower Saxony. Even if the Weser has been supported with water from the Edersee for a few days, it was not enough for gravel extraction in the end. This is done on the Weser with floating dredgers. Transport was also only possible with special ships and smaller quantities.
“Hope dies last.”
The effects on ferry operations are confusing – also because many are in the winter break. “But I also can’t imagine that a lot of ferry operations are possible,” explained Foellmer. If the Edersee does not fill up by spring, the situation will be difficult. “Hope dies last.”
Even in Reinhardshagen in northern Hesse, one looks worriedly at the river. There it goes without a bridge with a ferry to the opposite Lower Saxony. In the summer there were major problems due to the drought, said Mayor Fred Dettmar (UWG). The transport capacities should have been reduced because of the low water. The ferry service last ran there – also thanks to the Edersee water. However, the situation is not satisfactory: “The water that does not come now is missing in the summer.”
According to the Hessian State Office for Environment and Geology, around seven percent of the usual rainfall was missing in December. The drought becomes even clearer when looking at the entire year 2020. At 657 millimeters, there was 19 percent less rainfall than in the long-term comparison period. It is the third dry year in a row in Hessen. According to the state office, the cause of the low water was not only the lack of rain: due to the dry previous years, the inflow from soil layers into water bodies was lower than usual. “The extent to which the waters will recover from the drought of recent years in the long term depends on future weather developments,” said a spokeswoman.