Veolia Water has been developing projects and partnerships with fishermen for three years now. The goal is to pool strengths to better protect rivers and their ecosystems.
Fish: a reliable touchstone of water quality
Trout are well-known indicators of water quality. Some water production plants still have aquariums, dubbed “trout meters,” in which the behavior of trout is observed in order to assess water quality.
In rivers, counting the number of species and specimens in the water provides a reliable gauge of quality.
“The study of living organisms measures the real impact of human activities on nature. Our activities, especially wastewater treatment, have a direct impact on the ecological health of rivers, since the water we treat is discharged into rivers and streams. At every site we operate, we comply scrupulously with regulations and are stepping up the number of biological measurements to assess vulnerable streams.”Olivier Cavallo
Veolia Water has opted to work closely with fishermen on its protection initiatives and has established partnerships in France, Central and Eastern Europe.
Olivier Cavallo initiated a partnership with a French fly fishing association, the Fédération française de pêche à la mouche et au lancer.
“Besides providing civic-minded support for the Federation, we tap into their knowledge of rivers. In Seine-et-Marne, the Federation educated Veolia Water’s managers about wastewater treatment’s effects on the number of macroinvertebrates, measured using biological indicators.”
Since moving to the Var region a year ago, Olivier Cavallo has been working on a new partnership with the region’s sport fishing federation.
“Fishermen are the guardians of rivers. They are the first to observe pollution. We consider it essential to be informed as soon as possible, so that we can act immediately if one of our treatment plants is the source of the pollution.”
Veolia Water has teamed up with Jakub Vágner, a fisherman famous for setting a number of records, and his Freshwater Giants Foundation to launch a five-year program to restock rivers.
Each year some 4,000 fish, weighing collectively close to 2.5 metric tons, are released into streams.
“We wanted to be sure that the trout would come back to the rivers. That’s why, after consulting with Jakub Vágner, we decided to release large fish of different sizes and ages, so they would have a better chance of surviving and reproducing. This year we even managed to introduce fish just before the spawning season.”Vendula Valentová
The reintroduction site was selected with Jakub Vágner, in the Střela River near Plzeň. The Czech Fishing Federation (CRS) and local sport fishing associations joined forces on the project. In particular, they have committed to sport fishing only in areas where fish are being reintroduced to comply with the “catch and release” rule advocated by Jakub Vágner.
Local fishermen not only help out with releasing fish, they also monitor the growth of stocks and keep an eye on the river to curtail poaching.
“It is estimated that 70% to 80% of the fish introduced last year survived.”Zdeněk Hanzlíček
According to Jakub Vágner, the project is already a success.
“After three years I can give the project very high marks; the fish are here and fishermen catch them and throw them back, so we have even exceeded our expectations.”
New release sites are being considered.
“The next sites will have to be chosen carefully, especially because of the cormorant population, which has done a lot of damage in Bohemia the last few years.”
Veolia Water is working to expand the project to other geographic areas, notably Slovakia, Hungary and Romania, where Veolia Water also contributes actively to protecting the Danube delta and participated in an initiative to reintroduce sturgeons into the river in March 2012.
“Our partnerships with sport fishermen show how involved we are in all our host regions and our desire to position ourselves not just as a global water and wastewater management expert but a locally responsible operator.”Jean-Michel Herrewyn