The Havel River



The Havel river represents one of the largest contributes to the Elbe river and one of the most important lowland rivers in Germany. In the Country of Brandenburg, the Havel represents an important river course for various users. Due to it's complex hydrological and ecological structure, the Havel basin is suited for interdisciplinary and integrative investigations and corresponding management options, which cover the whole variety of natural and socio-economic characteristics.

The Havel river basin was choosen for various reasons:

bulletThe considerably large natural and socio-economic heterogeneity, which allows a transfer of methods and results to other regions of similar character
bulletThe high areal portion of agricultural areas, which is supposed to deliver significant results concerning the input and dynamics of nutrients including landuse change aspects
bulletThe various interests in using the available water resources as drinking water, for industrial purposes, as well as for shipping, fishery and general use
bulletThe high dependence of infrastructure and landuse from the discharge dynamics of the river courses and the water regulation
bulletThe high resistance of traditional water users (especially agricultural) against any changes in water management, due to their strong dependence on the water regulation structure
bulletThe high influence of larger scale river basin management structures
bulletLong lasting discharge minima in summer, which represent a basic problem in water quality improvement
bulletThe high number of natural resources of national and international importance

The Spree-Havel area is situated in the pleistocene Elbe lowland characterized by small gradients (and corresponding slow flow velocities) and large wetlands. Landuse is dominated by agricultural land (37,7 %), coniferous forests (32,6 %) and (often managed) meadows (11,1 %). The complex river network and the high number of lakes and river sections influenced by man are prominent characteristics of this lowland river. The hydrological conditions are characterized by various uses and management measures and a ditch system of high density in the lowland regions.

The study area of 13.932 km² size covers the whole Havel basin (24.069 km²) exclusive the Spree basin (10.137 km²). The Havel river spring is situated east of Müritz in the Country of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern. Starting at 63 m.a.s.l. the river covers 325 km before running into the Elbe river only 41 m lower. This is what it makes a typical lowland river. The Spree river, starting in the Oberlausitz region and entering the Havel near Spandau/Berlin has a basin almost three times larger than the Havel itself (10.137 km²). Therefore, it contributes a considerable discharge to the Havel river flow.

With respect to the scientific challenges the Havel river basin provides pretentious natural conditions. For example, the small-scale heterogeneity of geogeneously and hydrologically driven nutrient concentrations found in the water bodies are probably the most pronounced in Europe.

W. Lahmer

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