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Since the day of its foundation in the year 1990, the International Commission for the Protection of the Elbe River (ICPER) has been committed to promoting the retrieval of drinking water via river bank infiltration and enabling the agriculture to utilise the water and the sediments.

Water quality of the Elbe River and its tributaries

At the end of the 1980ies, the Elbe River was one of the most polluted rivers in Europe. By now we can see a markedly positive development of the water quality of the Elbe River and its tributaries. 

The oxygen concentration in the Elbe has increased, whereas the average concentrations of heavy metals in water as well as the concentrations of organic substances and nutrients have gone down considerably. The number of fish species has increased considerably, the salmon has returned to the Elbe tributaries and the passability of the Elbe for migratory fish has also improved significantly.

The water quality analysis in the Elbe River basin on the basis of an international coordinated monitoring programme had already been initiated at the beginning of the 1990ies. This was the cornerstone for the complex and coordinated monitoring of the water quality of the Elbe and its tributaries.

In order to implement a joint monitoring programme, a water quality monitoring network was established and an information network in the Elbe River basin was set up. Comparability is an important requisite for the joint interpretation of the monitored values. This is guaranteed by quality assurance measures on an international level within the ICPER framework.

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