Malavaux thinks that the authorities from both countries “are responding to these recommendations, they are working to implement them.” “There were some measures from the 1960s regarding water regulations for these hydropower plants, but they were a little forgotten. The Bern Convention’s recommendations were the boost they needed,” he believes.
“NGOs, the Cantonal and federal authorities are part of a group of surveillance and we discuss the progress every year,” Wulf explains.
According to the ProNatura leader, most of the recommended measures have been started in some way and some are even fully implemented. “What has worked well so far are the negotiations with the hydropower operators. Below the lowest dam of the river, there are no sudden rises and falls of the water anymore. That is a great progress,” Wulf says.
As for the sewage treatment, it seems to be taking longer, but according to the Pro Natura representative, “plans for the improvement of the two biggest plants have already been approved and the renovations are expected by 2022 or 2024.”
However, the most difficult issue so far is the pollution from agriculture and forestry. “The problem is that the level of pollution is within the legal obligations, but it still has a big effect on the fish,” Wulf says. Malevaux agrees: “The water fluctuations have become better, but it is not the case with the water quality. There is still a lot of algae proliferation.”
In this regard, there have been some tensions with people that work in the agriculture sector. “They are not very keen about taking supplementary measures to contain pollution,” Wulf declares.