About the European River Swimming Day and the EU Water Framework Directive

Since 2005, every year on the European River Swimming Day, people jump into their rivers and lakes as a sign to show their committment to water protection and set an example.


How does one come to this idea?

The European River Swimming Action was initiated by Roberto Epple. For many years, the environmentalist and social entrepreneur has been committed to living rivers. Especially to the Loire, but also all other rivers in Europe. Likewise when weirs, dams and embankments destroy their natural courses and fewer wildlife can live in and around them. But what annoys him most of all is that many people don't even take notice because they don't even really perceive their rivers. So, even positive steps in many places go unnoticed. But actually in Europe strict rules exist so that water is treated as a common heritage and thus protected.

The EU Water Framework Directive - legal protection for water?

In 2000, the EU provided water protection in Europe from a new foundation: According to the EU Water Framework Directive (WFD), rivers and lakes in all member states shall achieve good chemical and ecological status by 2015. Criteria for good condition is not only water quality, but also the water structure. Serving as a starting point would be naturally occurring freshwater, which can be defined as not having been altered or contaminated - therefore the target is living, free-flowing rivers.

At least that's the theory. In practice, it is unfortunately different. While many rivers are not as heavily polluted anymore and some flood plains have been rehabilitated, most problems remained unsolved. About half of all water bodies in the EU will not achieve good status by 2015.


So what should we do? Let's go for a swim!

If a law sets important goals, but the implementation of the law fails, then we have to have new ideas! We need to direct people's attention to what the issue is and make it understandable in a positive way. For this reason the European Rivers Network started the Big Jump in 2005. The message: Let us celebrate a reconciliation with our rivers - and swim all at the same time! The Youth Network for River Action is part of this movement for rivers.