Polish protest against Siarzewo dam

An ironic “birthday-party” with a dam-cake was held in Warsaw opposite the Ministry of Climate and Environment on 14th March 2023, the International day of action for rivers.  The Polish “Save the Rivers” Coalition gathered people to protest against the construction of Siarzewo dam on the Vistula river.

The partygoers demanded immediate consideration of NGO appeals against the environmental decision to build the Siarzewo dam which is considered a key component of the E40 waterway. It is five years since the complaint was filed but it is still not considered.  This should happen within one month.

The coalition shared that the cost of investment in Siarzewo dam is already expected to be PLN 7.6 billion, despite the fact that only a few years ago there was talk of PLN 2 billion. The cost of the unbuilt barrage is rising, and the investor, Poland’s State Water Holding ‘Polish Waters’ (‘Wody Polskie’), plans to hold a tender for the “design and build” of the barrage by autumn.

That is why the protesters called for the suspension of all work related to the construction of Siarzewo dam until a final environmental decision is issued and opposed the waste of millions of zlotys for preparations for the dam and billions for its construction.

To express their opposition to the dam in Siarzewo, the activists sang a specially prepared song, danced and tried to share a piece of dam-cake with the Ministry of Climate and Environment but were not allowed in the building to deliver this.  They also submiited an official letter.   

Siarzewo dam threatens Polish environment

Apart from economic aspects, Siarzewo dam is a huge threat to the Polish environment. As the 2022 Save Polesia report reveals, it would have a catastrophic impact on Natura 2000 sites. It would directly impact several Natura 2000 sites including Włocławska Vistula Valley, Nieszawska Vistula Valley and the Lower Vistula Valley. Also place others at risk including on the Vistula’s tributaries in the upper catchment – the Raba, Dunajec and San rivers.

The dam would stop the return of migratory fish including salmon, trout and sturgeon that disappeared from the river over fifty years ago when the Włocławek Dam blocked their seasonal migrations.

Siarzewo dam would increase methane emissions, would not reduce the risk of flooding and redistribute drought risks. This would put local communities and already fragile ecosystems in danger.

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*Top image shows the protest against the construction of Siarzewo dam. Photo credit: Małgorzata Kaznowska-Filipek