Water is stored as ice and snow in the mountains and partly released to the rivers in spring and summer. Alpine rivers are a freshwater source for large parts of Europe.It is needed for drinking water and households, irrigation, sports and hydropower. These uses sometimes compete with each other as well as with the needs of aquatic ecosystems. Water is also a major factor in natural disasters, such as avalanches and floods, permafrost melting and landslides, water scarcity and droughts. Water storage and precipitation are also affected by climate change.
That is why the Alpine Convention mentions water as one of 12 main Alpine issues (article 2, paragraph 2(e) of the Framework Convention) and sets out the objective "to preserve or re-establish healthy water systems, in particular by keeping lakes and rivers free of pollution, by applying natural hydraulic engineering techniques and by using water power, which serves the interests of both the indigenous population and the environment alike”.
Water issues are also an integral part of the EU Strategy for the Alpine Region (EUSALP) Action Group 6, which deals with the topic of “Preservation and valorisation of natural resources, including water and cultural resources”, led by the Permanent Secretariat of the Alpine Convention and the Province of Carinthia.