Press release

Big Jump - The first European River Swim Day on 17 July 2005

Hamburg, 12 July 2005 – Big Jump, a follow up project of the international "Elbebadetag", is underway and already making a splash ! More the 200 actions in over 10 countries and 30 rivers.

On Sunday, 17 July, at 2 p.m., tens of thousands of people atselected points throughout Europe will simultaneously jump into theirlocal rivers for a swim, or will hold debates along their banks.They are following the call of a broad coalition of partners whohave gathered for the "Big Jump" campaign. This first Big Jump isset to include 200 drives at 30 rivers in over 10 countries.

The event celebrates the first promising victories in the battle forclean water and living rivers, and a bold new European law that willlead the way to a brighter future. The European Water Framework Directivecalls for all Member States of the European Union to clean up their rivers,lakes, and groundwater, so that they are ecologicallygood status by the year 2015.

Big Jump is a call to citizens to help in this gargantuan task and withthis big plunge to take accountability for the quality of our water andfor the governments´ water policy - for without their help the goal cannever be achieved. The Big Jump campaign will publicise the implementationof the Directive, keeping the public informed of its progressevery step of the way.

Time is running out. Except for the river headwaters and a few lakes atthe foothills of the Alps, most of Europe´s surface water bodies, andthus much of its groundwater, are in pitiful condition. Even now we knowthat 50% of the water bodies in Europe, will probably never be able tobecome ecologically fit by 2015, and that they will need an extension.

But there are exceptions: most notably the Rhine and the Elbe. The sustainedimprovements that have been observed in the rivers´ chemical and bacterialpurity are spectacular, and are showing others the way. But here, too, it isstill a long way from almost-clean rivers to viable rivers teeming with life.Showcasing such positive examples is one of the tasks of this campaign.

The protection of our rivers and lakes is a community obligation, which requiresa show of solidarity and cooperation between "upstream" and "downstream". Water,the source of all life, must be commonly managed, justly and without regard toborders. This is precisely what the European Water Framework Directivecalls for as well.

The Big Jump campaign and its concerns have been paving the way. As part of aproject cofinanced by the EU, the non-governmental organisation,"Friends of the Earth Middle East" have appealed for peaceful cooperationto save the Jordan River. Mayors of Palestine, Israel and Jordan have beenheeding the call and together have been taking a Big Jump intothe Jordan River on 10 July!

Big Jump is an initiative of the European Rivers Network (ERN) in cooperationwith its European partners EEB (European Environmental Bureau) and WWF alongwith hundreds of regional partners. The idea for a European Swim Day originallydeveloped out of the "Living Elbe" project. The first Elbe Swim Day in 2002drew over a hundred thousand people to the banks of what was once known as thedirtiest river in Europe. The "Living Elbe" project, which was sponsored jointlyby the organisation Deutsche Umwelthilfe (German Environmental Aid) and Europe´sbiggest publishing house, Gruner + Jahr, was the progenitor of thisworld´s first River Swim Day.

For further information:

Big Jump international:
Roberto Epple
Director of the European Rivers Network (ERN)
8, Rue Crozatier
F-43000 Le Puy
Telephone: +33-471-020814
Telefax: +33-471-026099
Mobil: +33-608-621267
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Dr. Maria Hoffacker
Head of the Environmental Department
Gruner + Jahr AG & Co KG
Am Baumwall 11
20459 Hamburg
Telefon: +49-40-3703-3878
Telefax: +49-40-3703-5688
Agnes Sauter
Projectleader Elbebadetag
Deutsche Umwelthilfe e.V. (DUH)
Fritz-Reichle-Ring 4
78315 Radolfzell
Telephone: +49-7732-9995-11
Telefax: +49-7732/995-77
Mobil: +49-175-5724833
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Big Jump
The first European River Swim Day