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Low water level on the Rhine: Bonn Rhine falls to 1.14 meters to reach a low this year

Low water level on the Rhine : Bonn Rhine falls to 1.14 meters to reach a low this year

It hasn’t yet reached the record low from 2003 but the level of the Rhine has dropped alarmingly. By early Tuesday evening, it was at 1.14 meters, with a tendency to drop further.

The Rhine's water level in Bonn has not yet reached the record low from 2003. Back then, the level of 87 centimeters was measured at the end of September. On Tuesday at 5:30pm, the level was 1.14 meters, according to the city's homepage. And the tendency was for the level to drop even further.

For shipping companies who transport cargo on the Rhine, the situation has become critical. At the port of Bonn, logistics company Am Zehnhoff-Söns can only load barges with around two-fifths of a normal load. A few weeks ago, they could be loaded at least half full. "It's still worth it for the companies, but if the dry period lasts three or four more weeks, it could develop into a situation where it no longer makes sense from an economic standpoint," said managing director Alfonso Am Zehnhoff-Söns.

The logistics company is slapping on a surcharge for transporting loads right now because despite the smaller loads, there is still much effort involved as they have to reduce the draft. Just like Max Dornau, managing director of Bonn Ferry and Passenger Transport GmbH, the company Am Zehnhoff-Söns hopes for a long-lasting rainfall across the country so that the Rhine rises and shipping lanes and jetties are easier to navigate again. Dornau has stopped the Rheinnixe ferry for about two weeks now, "because the Beuel jetty is only accessible with a depth of at least 1.35 meters water". The Moby Dick, also from Bonn ferry and passenger shipping, is in operation, but can not access all stops.

According to the head of Bonn Passenger Ferry Company (BPS), Clemens Schmitz, the stops that can’t be reached at the moment because of the low water level include Mondorf, Bundeshaus, Bad Honnef, Rolandseck, Unkel, Bad Breisig and Sankt Goarshausen. "It might work somehow, but if a propeller breaks down or the ship gets stuck for whatever reason, there is no tow available at this low water level," said Schmitz. He does not want to risk it. He is also quite satisfied with how the season is going so far. Last weekend, the BPS had around 2,000 passengers between the Rhine and Moselle, a good number, which could be attributed to the beautiful sunny days.

The Rheinnixe ferry needs 1.35 meters to dock, while the Mondorf ferry, which travels between Bonn-Graurheindorf and Niederkassel-Mondorf, only needs 1.05 to 1.10 meters below the keel. "We are still operating and will survive this week in any case," says ferryman Werner Mauel. At least for the weekend, some precipitation has been forecast. As with all federal waterways, there are no restrictions for the Rhine. The owners decide for themselves whether or not they can operate.

(Orig. Text: Philipp Königs / Translation: ck)