Transformation, Irrigation, and Navigation
Along the Danube River
boundaries between the human and the natural have existed only to be crossed on
The Danube serves as a common link between man and
nature in European countries. Transportation, irrigation, and navigation are
important aspects of the Danube River
that humans thrive upon. Rivers are symbols. As
the second longest river in Europe, the Danube crosses through nine countries
and serves many in its watershed area proving the Danube is a major symbol of
life to those it serves.
along the Danube has been common since early records of
traveling soldiers about 2,000 years ago. In
as early as 200 A.D., Roman soldiers, Germanic tribes, Crusaders, and Ottoman
Turks all used the Danube to advance through Europe.
The Danube has served as a transportation route not only
for soldiers but also tourists, as well as providing a route for trading and
began to serve as a commercial link between nations in the 18th
The most important transportation along the Danube was
through freight movement. Simply put, this was a process whereby nature- all
things and relations in it – was conceived of, acted upon, and valued primarily
for its capacity to be exchanged at market for profit. The
transporting of import and export goods became very cheap along the Danube.
The Danube provides a route for moving bulk goods like
coal and grain economically in a region where road and rail connections can be
crowed and creaky. River
transportation was soon the main way in which goods were being shipped. The Danube
is a 350-km-long traps-European waterway that links seaports on the North
Sea to seaports on the Black Sea.
Shipping became simple due to the size and convenient path in which the Danube
flows. The Maria Valeria
Bridge, built in 1895, was a main
bridge most freight travel occurred under before it was destroyed by German
troops during the waning months of World War 11.
Like many structures along the Danube, the Maria
is under going reconstruction still to improve its ability to aid in
transportation along the river.
The Danube flows from
East to West through the countries of Germany,
Romania, and Ukraine.
“Most of the trade passed through here …” Teodora Kopcheva recalled about the
prospering city of Ruse. Ruse
is one of many cities along the Danube that can take
claim to Kopcheva’s statement. The Danube’s shores are
crowded with economically flourishing cities that are mainly responsible for
trading along the river.
along the river, however, has been a main source of oil pollution and lead
contamination of the Danube.
Although the Danube provides easy transportation routes
through Europe, a significant amount of freight movement
has polluted the river, damaging soil as well as habitats for all organisms
that call the Danube their home.
the 6th to 17th centuries, irrigation techniques and
water mills saw a marked development.
Drainage activities and the beginnings of irrigation canals were used to
encourage agriculture as well as drain swamps and peat bogs in most areas along
the Danube, especially in Czechoslovakia.
Drainage activities and irrigation techniques are used still today to encourage
a continual agriculture base along the Danube as well as
the spread of water to a larger watershed area.
irrigation dating back to the 18th century in Germany,
along with the bulk of flood control, water regulation, and drainage works in Hungary
completed in the 3rd and 4th centuries are still
practiced in those regions to this day. These old irrigation systems were built
mostly along natural gradients and can still be found in Lower
Austria. Most of the old irrigation systems, however, have been
reconstructed to ensure the effectiveness and stability of these systems.
Ferruh Anik declares “The water doesn’t flow for free.”
The reconstruction of the irrigation systems does cost a great deal,
nevertheless, there is an obvious need for the water to flow thoroughly and
systems, because of their high cost and complex nature, require a powerful
central management and tend to concentrate economic resources in a few hands.
The European Commission was established to control the delta and to supervise
over the river as an international waterway.
The European Commission recognizes the Danube as the
‘single most important non-oceanic body of water in Europe…’ The
Commission includes members from all countries neighboring or affected by the Danube
River. The members of the
Commission are required to report any shortcomings along the river, its delta,
its irrigation canals, and any problems individuals living within the Danube
watershed area may have.
was a useful but obstreperous form of nature that awaited man’s steadying and
The development of irrigation systems allowed nature to stop waiting on man’s
constructive labor. Irrigation attempts to help control or reduce the rate of
flooding and stabilize the water levels. Nature, nonetheless, has its own plan.
“What can I say, it’s in God’s hands.” Mr. Nedialker, a Bulgarian native,
offers his position on the recent flood and drought occurrences along the Danube.
rivers were the key to regional development.
The Roman emperor Trajan understood this idea when he built the first tow path
along the Danube at the Iron Gate
in 100 A.D. That proved wishful thinking.
The Danube Waterway System is the result of hundreds of years of enhancements,
such as canals, to make it the longest navigable river in Europe.
Since 1856, Danube countries have been cooperating for
navigation to be successful. Hydraulic works in forms of dams and reservoirs
can be found in mountainous areas of the Danube basin,
while navigable channels, dykes, and irrigation networks are concentrated in
the lowlands of the Danube basin.
Sulina Channel was artificially diked during the period of 1860-1895 for
This helped to increase the use of the channel and to further the concept to
navigation along the Danube. Navigation has come to a
halt in some sections of the Danube due to attacks
between the Danube’s regional countries. The NATO
bombings of various bridge sights to force Slobodan Milosevic to capitulate to
NATO in the war over Kosovo may have served immediate political objectives, but
did not consider the long-term effects. The riverbed is still full of debris
and unexploded ordinance, making river navigation along the Kosovo area of the Danube
Dugas believes, “Whenever you try to control nature you’ve got one strike
against you.” Dugas’
ideas have been proven over and again along the Danube
River. Navigation along the Danube
stems from canals, irrigation systems, and other transformations along the
river. Navigation has provided both good and bad results for the river. The
good effects include the ability to travel and transport along the river. The
bad effects include water pollution through accidental and illegal releases of
toxic substances. These effects eventually lead to dangers in ecosystems and
dangers in the water contamination levels for drinking and agricultural means.
Danube ‘simultaneously unites, defines, and divides
central Europe’…” Guy Raz, a member of the NPR, states. Transportation
along the Danube has been efficient for a few thousand
years. The Danube’s irrigation systems have been created
by man to increase the use and efficacy of the Danube
River in Europe
and the countries it impacts. This is only natural.
Navigation has been an increasingly used new prospect along the river. The Danube
has become of heightened importance and of viable use for Europe.
It is not only unique for its direction of flow but also for the important
perspectives that have developed and will continue to develop with time.
White, The Organic Machine: The Remaking of the Columbia River (New
York: Hill and Wang, 1995), xi.
Bernstein, “The Danube Transformed: From River of Blood to River of Hope; DOWN THE DANUBE: At the Source,” The New York Times, 1 August 2003, sec.A, p.6.
 Theodore Steinberg, Nature Incorporated:
Industrialization and the Waters of New England (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1991),
Kapner, “Economic Havoc from European Floods,” The New York Times, 16 August 2002, sec. W, p.1.
 Charles Wesley Orton, “The blue Danube
Blues,” World Trade, July 2000,
 Carl Kovac,
“Historic Danube Crossing is Restored a Section at a Time,” Engineering News Record, 16 July 2001, vol. 247, iss. 3, p.20.
 “The Danube River,” Introductory paragraph, para. 1.
Bernstein, “A Declining City’s Past, a Dislocated Writer’s Memory; DOWN THE DANUBE:
Remembered Glory,” The New York Times,
September 2003, sec. A, p.3.
 “The Danube River,” Current Environmental Concerns, para.3.
 “Danube Valley: History of Irrigation, Drainage, and Flood Control,”
[Book review online] Review, para. 2; available from http://www.icid.org/book_detl.html; Internet; Accessed 22 September 2004.
Raines Ward, Water Wars: Drought, Flood, Folly, and the Politics of Thirst
(New York: Riverhead, 2002), 189.
 David E.
Nye, “Remaking a ‘Natural Menace’: Engineering the Colorado River,” in Technologies Landscape: From Reaping to
Recycling, ed. David E. Nye (Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press,
 “The Danube River,” Historical data, para.2.
 Mark Fiege,
Irrigated Eden: The Making of an Agricultural Landscape in the
American West (University of
Washington Press, 1999), 22.
Woodward, “The Danube and Europe’s other rivers thirst for Water; [ALL Edition],” The Christian Science Monitor, para.15; 2 October 2003, sec. A, p.7.
Woodward, “Singing the Danube Blues; [ALL Edition],” The Christian Science Monitor, para.22; 11 May 2000, sec. A, p.15.
Wesley Orton, “Shipping to and From Europe,” World Trade, para. 10; May 2001, vol. 14, iss. 5, p.54.
McPhee, The Control of Nature (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux,
 “Danube Valley: Navigation,” para.5.
 Paul R.
Josephson, Industrialized Nature: Brute Force Technology and the Transformation
of the Natural World (Washington:
Island Press, 2002), 11.