Permanent German-Dutch Boundary Water Commission celebrates anniversary
For more than 50 years, Germany and the Netherlands have worked together successfully in the countries' Boundary Water Commission. The Commission was founded with the aim of coordinating water management between the two countries. Since its first meeting in 1963, water quality has improved considerably. The Commission succeeded in both building confidence and fostering mutual understanding. A ceremony has been organised today at Venlo to celebrate the Commission's 50th anniversary.
Federal Environment Minister Peter Altmaier highlighted the Commission's work as exemplary: "This German-Dutch cooperation of many years is an excellent example of cross-border cooperation based on trust. An effective coordination among all parties sharing water bodies is necessary to establish the right balance between water protection and use."
The Permanent German-Dutch Boundary Water Commission was founded by the border treaty of 1960. The first meeting was held in December 1963 in the Dutch city of Zwolle. Transboundary waters include the rivers Vechte, Rur and Grenzaa. While activities initially focused on water quantity management with the goal of ensuring proper water flow among other things, later the Commission also began to deal with the causes and control of water pollution. The Ems-Dollart Environment Protocol of 1996 led to further cooperation in the field of water and nature conservation in the Ems estuary. The protection of water bodies as ecosystems and the Commission's contribution to implementing the relevant European Directives, for instance the Water Framework Directive, have significantly gained in importance in recent years.
The German Commission members represent the Federal Environment Ministry and the two Länder sharing border with the Netherlands: North Rhine-Westphalia and Lower Saxony. Direct cooperation at regional level still plays an important role within the Boundary Water Commission. At times as many as 17 regional subcommittees were active; this figure currently stands at 7. The subcommittees offer a platform for authorities responsible for water management in the different regions allowing them to discuss concrete solutions for local issues such as muskrat control, jointly operated pumping stations or the effect of surface mining projects on ground water.