Effects of water diversion and climate change on the Rur and Meuse in low-flow situations

Christiane Pyka*, Cor Jacobs, Roman Breuer, Jan Elbers, Heribert Nacken, Hani Sewilam, Jos Timmerman

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Water scarcity is one of the problems in water management that hinders European rivers in reaching a good ecological status as defined in the European Water Framework Directive. Water scarcity often coincides with high water temperature and low water quality. High water temperatures decrease the oxygen supply and often coincide with low flows that tend to increase the load of various compounds that affect the equilibrium in the ecosystem. The river Meuse regularly encounters situations of low water flow. In these situations, the river Rur, an important tributary of the river Meuse in Germany, contributes significantly to the Meuse discharge. Climate change can lead to more frequent periods of water scarcity. Moreover, plans exist to divert water from the Rur to former brown coal quarries in Germany. This exploratory study examines the relationships between discharge, water temperature and water quality under future climate change and water diversion scenarios in low-flow situations for the rivers Meuse and Rur. The results of the study confirm that rising air temperatures as a result of climate change will lead to higher water temperatures which will negatively impact the water quality of the Meuse in particular. Despite the fact that the contribution of the Rur has a positive impact on the water quality of the Meuse, the results suggest that effects of plans to divert water from the Rur may be small on average. However, the impact of the diversion may be stronger on individual hot summer days with low water levels when the Rur contributes significantly to the discharge of the Meuse.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1206
JournalEnvironmental Earth Sciences
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • Climate change
  • Low-flow
  • Water quality
  • Water temperature

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