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........ published in NEWSLETTER # 61

PROTECTING DANUBE RIVER BASIN RESOURCES: Ensuring Access to Water Quality Data and Information
By Dr. I.L. Murphy, Colorado State University, Washington DC (U.S.A.)

The NATO Advanced Research Workshop which was convened in Budapest in May 1996 brought together 24 scientists and policy specialists from NATO and NATO Cooperation Partner countries in the Danube River Basin to suggest ways to improve Basin-wide access to water quality data and information. Their recommended strategy is particularly timely since a Danube convention to protect the resources of the river basin is expected to come into force in 1997. The countries will have committed themselves to sharing data and information, among other actions.

This book (NATO ASI SERIES 2-24) elaborates Basin water quality data and information needs and the workshop proposals for an action program to bring accurate, timely information and data to a wide range of users in government, research, and non-governmental organizations. Case studies by scientists and engineers in the Danube countries describe existing data exchanges in major Danube international tributaries. The related work of the five-year Environmental Programme for the Danube River Basin is reviewed by its former team leader and by the chair of the interim president of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River. The director of the team establishing the Danube monitoring and data-reporting network describes the system which will permit periodic evaluations of the environmental status of the basin.

Competition over water use comes first in a priority list of the issues which must be resolved if peaceful and equitable basin management is to be achieved. Principles of international law apply to river systems, notably the concept that each basin country should have a reasonable and equitable share in the beneficial use of shared water resources. Such sharing has been widely construed to incur an obligation to exchange hydrologic and other relevant data and information on a regular basis and to make them available to the public.

Proposals by the group of scientists and engineers emphasized the need to bring together monitoring results with other sources of data and information at a single point of enquiry for all users through an Internet application. Each Danube country is expected to develop its own web site which can be accessed through the central information center. A NATO Linkage Grant is helping basin countries by developing electronic products for Internet installation. Cooperation from other international agencies is anticipated. Spin-offs for research projects include extension of the concept to other European transboundary waterways. Increased access to water quality and quantity data as it may relate to economic and social phenomena enhances the potential for multidisciplinary research projects.
Reference books: 2-3, 2-6, 2-7, 2-24, E-257

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