Bayurivka Dam, Ukraine

WWF-Ukraine is on a mission to enable a river to become free flowing again deep in the Carpathian mountains on the border with Romania

Introduction

WWF-Ukraine is on a mission to enable a river to become free-flowing again deep in the Carpathian mountains on the border with Romania, one of the few places in Europe with true wilderness.

When the project team completes this mission, they will have removed seven dams in the Carpathians since 2020. The removal of the Bayurivka Dam added 27 km to the free-flowing part of the White Cheremosh River, in addition to the 504 km freed in the previous years. The only obstacle left on the White Cheremosh after this removal is the Perkalaba Dam. WWF-Ukraine is already negotiating the removal plans for this dam with the local River Basin Authority. Thus, in 2022, we celebrated the fully free-flowing river in the wild heart of the Ukrainian-Romanian Carpathians.

At a glance

Project typeDam removal (demolition)
Project StatusComplete
Removal dateJune 2022
CountryUkraine
RiverPerkalaba River
Km to be opened27
Key habitatsWintering sites, spawning sites, feeding and nursery sites for all species listed below.
Focal speciesBrown trout, endangered Danube salmon, Ukrainian lamprey and others
Websitehttps://wwf.ua/our-work/freshwater/free-river/

Project context and opportunity

One of the key achievements of the project was biodiversity restoration. As the dam’s location was so deep in the mountains on the National Park territory, there were a lot of wild animals around. After removing Bayurivka, the river could be a biodiversity hotspot. Protected fish species are expected to return upstream (brook trout, Danube salmon, Ukrainian lamprey and more) and attract protected fish-eating animals such as brown bears, otters and various bird species.

The removal of the Bayurivka Dam has a cross-border value. The White Cheremosh River runs on both Ukrainian and Romanian territories. Bayurivka was the only dam situated on the Ukrainian-Romanian border, very hard to reach, and unlikely to become the focus of both countries’ authorities. Thus, the joint Open Rivers Programme and WWF-Ukraine project was the only chance for this dam to be removed and the river to be opened. By renewing the flow of the 27 km in this part of the White Cheremosh, the removal is expected to restore ecological and hydromorphological processes and positively affect river sections in Romania and Ukraine.

Project aims

Due to prior experience, the project team was able to work out an effective algorithm, and a precise action plan that embraced cooperation with various stakeholders to complete the project. Together, they conducted ichthyological monitoring before and after dam removal, removed the dam, and promoted dam removal in Ukraine.

Project achievements

The project’s primary goal of biodiversity restoration and enhancement of the hydrological status of the White Cheremosh River has been successfully accomplished. The restoration of flow in this river section has reinstated crucial ecological and hydromorphological processes, positioning it as a potential reference section capable of achieving Good Ecological Status due to its remote location and minimal anthropogenic impact.

Key indicators, including the number of species in selected taxonomic groups, the presence of Red List species (such as the brown bear), the establishment of new habitats for fish species, and improvements in water quality (outlined in Annex 1), have been employed to measure the project’s success.

A significant outcome is the removal of the Bayurivka dam upstream, near the mountain village, effectively mitigating the risk of dam breach and contributing to flood protection measures. The elimination of this obsolete dam, devoid of ownership and maintenance, has prevented the potential for breaches and reduced the negative impacts of flooding on downstream villages.

Moreover, the dam removal has not only enhanced the ecological status of the river and its surroundings but also serves as a magnet for tourists, attracting visitors to the Carpathian Mountains. In conclusion, the removal of this dam stands as a noteworthy contribution to the ecology of the Carpathian Mountains.

Partners

LLC "Karpaty Budinvest”

Ministry of Ecology and National Resources of Ukraine

Dniester Basin branch of State Water Agency

Prut and Siret branch of State Water Agency

Verkhovynskyi National Park