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Sailing around Kaunas: mission possible

Sailing around Kaunas: mission possible

The area will open to recreational and passenger shipping following the cleaning of the Nemunas riverbed and installation of a new pier

In the near future, the water area of ​​the Nemunas Island in Kaunas, Lithuania will receive a makeover which is expected to facilitate its touristic allurement. The Inland Waterways Directorate (VVKD) is preparing to install a pier, where recreational and passenger ships will be able to moor. So, Kaunas residents and guests will have a chance to sail around Kaunas from the heart of the city to Kulautuva, a town in Kaunas County. And this is not the whole story.

Managing the riverbed

This spring, VVKD started the implementation of a historical Nemunas management project, scheduled for completion in 2023, after which the approximately 225 km long riverbed will be regulated by 500 new and renovated existing hydraulic structures. In parallel, work began near the Žalgiris Arena, where a dredge and servicing vessels carry out dredging and cleaning of the riverbed.

“The arranged water area of ​​the Nemunas Island and the equipped pier will become another centre of attraction in the future. This is especially important for our tourism. Kaunas is a city of rivers, therefore we are happy with the upcoming changes,” said Kaunas Deputy Mayor Andrius Palionis, quoted by the city website.

New pier and ship

According to Vladimir Vinokurov, General Director of VVKD, the works in the Nemunas Island water area are planned to be completed in the next few weeks. Immediately afterwards, a pier will be installed to provide mooring for vessels.

“We are coordinating actions with Kaunas Municipality. As soon as the water area is cleared, it will be possible for the ships not only to turn around, but also to moor at the pier, which we plan to build at the end of this month. We want city residents and guests to have the opportunity to come to the heart of the city,” explained Vinokurov. He also announced that Žalgiris, a renovated 100-seat passenger ship, will travel from Nemunas Island to Kulautuva.

Ship lock and fishway project

Next year, works in the Nemunas will progress towards Kaunas Hydroelectric Power Plant. This is where the longest river in Lithuania is blocked by a 20 m high dam wall.

At the end of March, Kaunas city leaders initiated a proposal for a ship lock and fishway project which could speed up the revitalization of the river.

“We see that during the cleaning and dredging process the river bed rises towards the hydroelectric power plant, therefore the idea of installing a ship lock is timely. If the ships are to reach the HPP from both sides, the lock will simply become inevitable. At the same time we have to ensure a stream for free migration of fish on the Nemunas,” Kaunas Mayor Visvaldas Matijošaitis observed.

The head of VVKD recalled that more than two ship locks are installed in the European Union every year. Such a project typically requires an investment of between EUR 50 and EUR 70 million.

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