Germany to Almost Double Water Cleanup Funds for Spree

Germany will almost double the funding to clean waters in the polluted Spree River that flow past Chancellor Angela Merkel’s office.

The work planned by government-owned Lausitzer und Mitteldeutsche Bergbau-Verwaltungsgesellschaft mbH will rise to as much as 15 million euros ($21 million) this year from 9 million euros in 2013, the government said in a reply to questions from the Green Party.

The water quality of the Spree, which runs through downtown Berlin and Saxony and Brandenburg states in eastern Germany, has been tainted by rising iron and sulfate levels. The pollution stems from “the iron that has always been in the ground and 100 years of lignite mining,” the government said.

The contamination that mainly affects Brandenburg and Saxony threatens the region’s drinking supply and the Spreewald, an area of channels, wetlands and alder and pine forests southeast of Berlin that’s been a UNESCO biosphere reserve since 1991. Today, the region relies mainly on tourism.

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