Ecopoliti­cal Mapping Ötz­taler Alps

The rivers of the Ötztaler alps are threatened by hydropower development. Learn how a team of SRC Ötz participants brought together all arguments against the dams on an illustrative map.

The map

To visualize the extension plan and their impacts on the region from different point of views an ecopolitical map was created. Two participatory mapping sessions were held with representatives of different sectors as agriculture, nature conservation, tourism and recreational use, nature parks, environmental protection organisations, university, fisheries and residents of the region.

Participants were asked to place their thoughts on the expansion plans on a geographical map of the area to contribute their knowledge, emotions and associations regarding the social, ecological and economic changes that would result from the expansion. The input from these sessions were visualized by Lukas Vogl, building a bridge between science, the realities of life and emotions.

You can pick up the printed map in Innsbruck (contact: chiara[@], or download it here (reach out to chiara if you need a better quality).

Students for Rivers camp drawing by Vera Knook

Kaunertal Hydropower Impacts

The expansion plans for the hydropower plant Kaunertal are an extensive project by TIWAG (Tiroler Wasserkraft AG), that would affect several valleys and rivers in Tyrol.

The existing Kaunertal power plant is to be converted into a pumped storage power plant and a new reservoir is to be built in the neighboring valley, Platzertal. This will require the extraction and transportation of almost up to 80 % of the water from the Ötztaler Ache (Ötztal) and the construction of new constructions in the catchment area. The plans to divert water from the Ötztal would substantially impact both the environment and inhabitants, including the loss of drinking water and water for agricultural irrigation. The Platzertal is currently home to Austria’s largest almost untouched high alpine peat- and wetland area (20 ha). The peatland is a not-to-neglect carbon sink and water reservoir, home to several specialty plant and animal species, which would be destroyed by flooding.

The planned measures in the Kaunertal will result in years of construction site traffic and increased dust pollution. In addition, there are several unstable slopes around the existing reservoir; an expansion for pumped storage use could make these slopes even more unstable and thus endanger the stability of the entire reservoir. As the link between the individual river valleys, the river Inn would be impacted by increased hydropeaking and numerous construction and straightening activities, making conditions for organisms even harsher. The use of hydropower impairs natural rivers and ecosystems, which in turn endangers the basis of life for various species, biodiversity and climate regulation. Preserving intact ecosystems is crucial for the long-term preservation of ecosystem services, our livelihoods and for tackling the climate crisis as well as biodiversity loss.

You can pick up the printed map in Innsbruck (contact: chiara[@]rivercollective.or), or download it here.

sign the petition

Add your voice to stop the Kaunertal Powerplant expansion WET is running a campaign that says YES, to the protection of alpine rivers. YES, to a nature friendly energy transition. NO, to the expansion of the Kaunertal Powerplant.

local action

In the coming months, several actions will be organised to spread the map further. The mapping team is planning activities in Innsbruck, and would be happy to hear from you if you have any ideas.

If you want to do more against the Kaunertal Powerplant expansion, Wildwasser Erhalten Tirol (WET) is always looking for more people to add their voice to the cause, by helping organise protests and actions and spreading the word. Follow the link below to learn how you can get involved in this campaign!

Members involved in Ecopoliti­cal Mapping Ötz­taler Alps

River Collective Member drawing by Vera Knook
River Collective Kayaker drawing by Vera Knook