Emscher River (02:46)
The Ruhr district, home to much of Germany's steel production, used the river for its waste. After protests in the 1980s, a project began to restore the river to its natural state.
Emscher and Heavy Industry (06:09)
At the end of the 19th century, industry used the Emscher River to dump toxic wastewater; it often flooded and spread disease. In 1906, engineers straightened the river and placed it in a concrete bed, turning it into a canal.
Restoring the Emscher (05:45)
Marine biologist Robert Donoso-Buchner hopes the river can be cleaned up and fish can return. The Emscher Action Group has been protesting the river's conditions for 30 years. The last coal mine closed in 2018.
Dellwig Brook (04:37)
The Emscher Cooperative installed pipes to carry wastewater to a sewage treatment plant and removed the concrete bed; animal and plant life returned. Replication of the project began on other parts of the Emscher in 2009.
Water Treatment of Emscher (05:43)
Five treatment plants are needed to purify the Emscher's water; they will also include hydropower. Despite poor water quality in tributaries, some fish have survived.
Emscher in Dortmund (06:25)
The river ran through a pipe under a steelworks plant in Dortmund until the plant was demolished in 2002. Engineers opened the Emscher and a tributary after the discovery and created a lake.
Renaturation of the Emscher (08:40)
Experts use electric fishing to determine whether fish are living in the tributaries. Scientists hope their findings will speed up the renaturation process. The Emscher Action Group works to raise awareness of the benefits.
Emscher Renovations (05:43)
Many of the tributaries' concrete beds have been removed, but the project for the river itself requires more testing. Renovations also uncovered archeological finds.
Emscher's Future (05:27)
Wildlife has returned to some of the tributaries. With cleaning and renaturation plans underway, a new estuary is being built at the mouth of the Emscher to allow fish to swim freely.
Credits: "The Emscher: The Miracle in the Coalfields" (00:26)
Credits: "The Emscher: The Miracle in the Coalfields"
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