The idea

From the oblivion…

The 20th century forgot its rivers: they served as rubbish dumps, were polluted and dangerous and their access were often forbidden. They were used only for navigation and for the production of power. The numerous beaches and swimming spots disappeared; people turned their back to the rivers and forgot their responsibility. Fortunately, huge efforts have been made since the 90ies for the cleaning and the restoration of rivers. The Rhine, Elbe and Loire rivers now possessed numerous spots reaching the bath water quality standards. They become exemplary for the management of the other European river basins.

…to the revival of the way of living with rivers.

Responsible citizens have understood : to respect, to live with, to restore, to give back its original space to the river, to improve the water’s quality everywhere, are the new motto. This growing awareness is expressed through the revival of the activities on and along the rivers: cycle tracks, discovery canoe tours, sporty fishing, even swimmers have been seen… There are the precursor signs of a new age which are also seen in big urban visionary projects as in Vienna, Berlin, Munich, Berlin, Paris, Lyon and others.

People’s comeback to the rivers.

“Big Jump” aims at reconciliating people with their rivers. This project will induce the citizens to reconquer their rivers and lakes and will revive
the powerful links that used to bind people to these spaces. Reconciliation is an essential element to gain people’s support to the big European restoration effort for rivers and wetlands, this huge project being expressed in the European Water Framework Directive.

The vision

10 000 beaches for Europ’s living rivers – only a vision ?

Elbe’s exemple.

Dredse_140702_Elbeschwimmen_05_bild elbe2002

Elbe 2002, © ERN France

In 2002, a pilot “Big Jump” project, the “International Elbe-Swimming Day” gathered 100.000 people who celebrated the rediscovery of their River Elbe, a river that was the most polluted river in Europe in 1989 (Reunification of Germany).



Projet Lebendige Elbe.

The German project. Hundreds of actions, from a simple event to the revival of old traditions, including the reopening of beaches and historical bathing equipments, took place during this unique project. The event was created by Roberto Epple from the ERN European Rivers Network and realized by the Living Elbe project partners Deutsche Umwelthilfe and Gruner+Jahr. From the source of the Elbe in the Czech Republic, through Eastern Germany to the estuary near Hamburg, 55 swimming spots on thousand kilometres were counted and supervised by more than 200 local organizing groups.

What has been made possible for the Elbe river will be achieved too for other rivers, water basins and countries, everywhere !