On 18 September 2019, Opole hosted the second Inland Navigation Congress. The event was attended by nearly 800 participants, who had the opportunity to take part in 12 discussion panels focused on such topics as: the advantages and limitations of inland passenger navigation, reasonable water management, water tourism, innovations and waterway management, adaptation of rivers within towns, and development of professional skills in inland navigation.
Much attention was devoted to waterway development programmes. According to the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, next year should see completion of the Oder and Vistula waterway programmes, which may be adopted by the government in 2021. Currently, economic analyses are being conducted. Analyses for the Oder-Danube-Elbe project will also be developed. In 2020, there will also be public consultation on these programmes related to river investments.
In the first part of the congress, there was a discussion on the financing of inland waterway transport in the next EU financial perspective. The panel was attended by representatives of European organisations of users and administrators of inland waterways, the European Commission, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management, as well as the Ministry of the Environment, who reflected on the shape of desired development directions and their priorities.
In the discussion on the state of water tourism in Poland, speakers presented trends and development directions of inland passenger navigation, yachting, houseboats and kayaking.
At the conference on the Oder Waterway, a number of specialist analyses of hydro-technical issues and modelling were presented, indicating possible locations of new barrages on the Oder section. The panel participants were also able to learn how ecohydrology – a science integrating hydrological, biological and biogeochemical processes – can contribute to sustainable river basin management, with special attention to implementation of the EU Water Framework Directive.
In the panel entitled “The town and municipality by the river”, development possibilities resulting from the location of a given town near a waterway were presented on the examples of Głogów, Racibórz and Brzeg. The experiences of regions concerning cooperation for revitalisation of the Polish section of E40 and E70 were also presented.
In the exhibition section, Congress participants could see products of Polish yacht shipyards, equipment used by the water police and rescue services, as well as offers of tourist companies and regions. Promotional centres, inland waterway schools and colleges, as well as waterway authorities had their own booths also.
It is worth noting that this year’s event was held under the motto “towards benefits”. This is a continuation of the dialogue on the future of inland navigation in Poland. It also serves as a meeting platform for representatives of international and national institutions, as well as experts and stakeholders dealing with, among others, inland waterway transport and its integration in the economic use of rivers, which is one of aspects of reasonable water management.