The river Elbe is one of the most important rivers in Europe. From its sources up in the highest Czech mountain range (Riesengebirge) to its mouth in the North Sea it has a length of 1.094 km. 727 km of the river are German and 367 km are Czech territory. Since time immemorial the river Elbe is both a productive fishing ground, a reservoir of drinking water and a place for bathing pleasure as well as a trade route which connects nations.
Active shipping transport is run on the river Elbe for over 1000 years. In the early 14th century emperor Charles IV already made great plans with pan-European character: he wanted to control the river with bank reinforcements and dams, so it is navigable all-season. Namely it was to be connected via the river Moldau (Vltava) and additional channels which had to be build with the river Donau, as main axis between Black Sea and North Sea. With the resolutions of the congress of vienna in 1815 the river Elbe was granted the status of an international waterway.
Until the end of the 19th century a more constant river bed was created by construction of groynes and 'Parallelwerken' as well as by corrections of the flow. Drawing off floods and ice drifts became less dangerous fort he people near the river and better conditions for shipping navigation were established.
Today the river elbe with its unspoiled river banks is an ecologically cultivated waterway. Unlike railways and roads it has significant reserve capacity for a environmentally compatible coverage of the growing flow of goods between Bohemia, Central Germany and the world via seaports. A constant water depth of at least 1,60 m can be guaranteed between Ústí nad Labem and Geesthacht at least 345 days a year by determined realization of all necessary maintenance and repairs along the river. Therefore it is indispensable but also important for maintaining riverside forest and fauna as well as for securing the majority of drinking water supply for the people near the river. Only this way planning security and competitiveness will be given especially for the market-based economy in the catchment area of the river Elbe. Thus, work, people's "wage and bread", is guaranteed.