The Danube And Other Rivers

Mistress of the mouth of the Danube, Romania has a closer interest in the great river than any other nation. The Danube is to Romania not merely a great trade channel, connecting the Baltic and the North Sea with the Euxine; but since the river forms a delta comparable with that of the Nile or the Mississippi, overflowing an area of more than two million acres, it brings up unusual agricultural and fishery problems. The difficulty is increased by the variation of the river's volume. At low water, the Danube discharges only 2000 cubic meters per second; at high water, up to 36,000! It is to be hoped that the International Danube Commission will carry through its plans for systematic regulation of the river, with a series of reservoirs. Meanwhile, Romania's distinguished scientist, Dr. Gregory Antipa, succeeded for a time, at least, in harmonizing the opposing claims of agriculture and the fisheries. The farmers would like to have the river dyked in by levees for its lower course, and reclaim, at least for pasturage, all the overflowed area; but much of this region is light sandy soil, quite worthless without the annual deposit of river mud; and much is made up of permanent lakes and canals. Furthermore, the fisheries are a State monopoly and bring in an income of about a million dollars a year… Much use is made of the so-called "Bulgarian wheels" – mill-wheels set into the river's bank, which dip up the water into irrigating canals for early vegetables. Dr. Antipa, who had discovered that the plants and microorganisms which small fry eat, survive exposure to sun and frost at least one year, developed an ingenious system of alternating cultivation and fishing on the same land in successive years; and it is to be hoped that it will be given a thorough trial on a large scale. The Danube carries down so much fine sand and clay that it pushes its delta seaward 15 or 20 feet a year; the turbid yellow flood overlies the clear green of the Euxine for many miles. This sea receives such a volume of fresh water that it is much less salt than the Mediterranean; at the surface there is only 1.9% salt, but, at the greatest depth, of 6500 ft., the percentage rises to 2.2. The temperature varies curiously; at the surface the water runs from 55° to 75°, according to the season; at 50 fathoms, there is a constant temperature of about 45°; but in the lower strata the temperature rises again, to nearly 50°. Life ceases in this sea below 50 fathoms, chiefly in consequence of the large percentage of sulphuretted hydrogen in the deep water. excerpts from Chapter II of Greater Roumania, Dodd, Mead and Company, New York, 1932

by Charles Upson Clark (1875-1960)