Geografie 2004, 109, 93-104

Water Quality changes in the Elbe River Basin

Jakub Langhammer

Charles University in Prague, Faculty of Science, Department of Physical Geography and Geoecology, Albertov 6, 128 43 Praha 2, Czechia

In the course of the 90s, the Czech part of the Elbe river basin underwent a significant change in the quality of surface water. After a long period of intensified pollution hitting the peak at the end of the 80s, reduced amount of emissions from main industrial and municipal sources led to a lower pollution load of the Elbe and its principal tributaries. The scope and speed of such water quality changes is unprecedented in the Czech as well as in the European perspective. Decrease in the pollution level is however spatially limited to the Elbe river and its main tributaries. Further reduction of emission load will not result in corresponding decline of water pollution. This is due to different evolution of rivers of different sizes, but mainly to insufficient decrease of pollution load in the he ad stream areas of the river basin. It is this area of small watercourses that has to be in the centre of attention because without its radical changes it isn't possible to ensure permanent improvement of water quality in the Elbe and its tributaries.