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New network reinforces water protection in all Berlin districts

Entlang der Panke in Berlin

Berlin, 20 January 2023

At today's launch event organised by Grüne Liga, Berliner Landesarbeitsgemeinschaft Naturschutz (BLN), BUND, Grüne Liga, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin, NABU Berlin and a tip:tap e.V., the Wassernetz Berlin ("Water Network Berlin") was founded. The civil society network sets unprecedented goals until 2026 to advance the urgent improvement of watercourses, lakes and groundwater in the city.

The Water Network is the answer to the growing water and biodiversity crisis in Berlin: All the running and still waters are blocked, polluted or drying up. Over 50 percent of them are in an ecologically unsatisfactory to poor condition. "We have joined forces to make water protection a priority in Berlin and to ensure that visible progress is made citywide," says Manfred Schubert, Managing Director of BLN, which is carrying the project.

"Thanks to the close cooperation between the associations, the Water Network can be active in all districts and at more than 40 water bodies to promote ecological improvements and opportunities for participation. The public dialogues on the banks will provide important impulses," explains Andrea Gerbode, board member of BUND Berlin, which initiated the network.

"In cooperation with the responsible authorities, the network will be involved in at least 19 water bodies, for example planting riparian trees, developing reed beds or unsealing paved areas," says Sandra Kolberg, managing director of Grüne Liga Berlin. The action sites include, for example, the Heidekampgraben, the Königssee, the Große Krampe or the groundwater pond. 

"For all action waters, we would like to recruit local supporters to keep an eye on a particular stretch of water," adds Juliana Schlaberg, nature conservation officer of the NABU Berlin regional association. Those interested are also welcome to help with water surveys.

In addition, the Water Network provides information and organises nationwide workshops on key topics such as landscape water management, water quality or biotope networks. "For those who are interested, this offers are a good opportunity to inform themselves about the topics and to network with other active people. In this way, practical solutions and activities can be developed together," says Silke Voigt-Heucke, Museum für Naturkunde Berlin.

The network will also get involved politically to ensure that the necessary decisions and measures are taken at all levels. "The European Water Framework Directive is a strong right for our blue lifelines. Compliance with the environmental targets is long overdue. For example, Berlin must also invest significantly more in cleanliness in order to protect our natural drinking water resources and forests"; informs Samuel Höller, Managing Director of a tip:tap e.V. – "We are already thinking beyond 2026."

The Water Network is funded by the Lotto Foundation Berlin. It emerged from the Water Network Initiative with the project "Action Network Small Water Bodies", which set the first positive examples for the upgrading of watercourses and lakes in 2021.