Upper Sûre Lake committee meeting, with Luxembourg’s Minister for Spatial Planning, Claude Turmes (centre); Credit: MEA

The "Uewersauer-Stauséikommissioun" (Upper Sûre Lake committee) met on Thursday 21 September 2023, in the presence of Luxembourg’s Minister for Spatial Planning, Claude Turmes, to review the 2023 bathing season at the Upper Sûre Lake (Stauséi).

Following some personnel changes after the local elections on 11 June 2023, the meeting provided an opportunity for all stakeholders to acquaint themselves with the new team members. According to the commission members, including responsible ministries, administrations, municipalities, Upper Sûre Nature Park and local stakeholders, the overall assessment of the 2023 season was positive, with only a few minor setbacks.

Minister Turmes stated: "I am particularly pleased that today, we were able to draw a positive conclusion from the 2023 season and together we were able to lay the first foundations for further improvements for the 2024 season. A future focus will be on improving accessibility at the reservoir, considering the implementation of a concept modelled on the French 'handyplages'.”

Improving accessibility around the reservoir has been a collaborative effort among various state, regional and local entities working within the committee, established in 2020. Minister Turmes extended his gratitude to everyone contributing to enhancing the tourist experience, improving residents' quality of life, ensuring safety and preserving nature and drinking water. He acknowledged the municipalities, SEBES, police personnel, the Grand Ducal Fire and Rescue Corps (Corps grand-ducal d'incendie et de secours - CGDIS), the National Roads Administration, mobility and tourism authorities, as well as the Upper Sûre Nature Park. The minister also commended ranger Tom Schmit for his efforts in reminding visitors of the reservoir's code of conduct, particularly during weekends. Minister Turmes emphasised the need to address challenges in the future, such as improving accessibility around the reservoir, possibly implementing a concept similar to the French "handyplages" in specific areas.

Despite a relatively quiet season due to a rainy summer, the reservoir attracted numerous visitors, primarily from Luxembourg, Belgium, the Netherlands and France. Ranger Tom Schmit continued his role in enforcing site etiquette, particularly concerning issues like littering, open fires, unauthorised fishing and disregarding the swimming ban imposed in September due to increased blue-green algae levels.

Enhancements in visitor management included improved parking management around the reservoir through a parking guidance system. Real-time parking space occupancy information is displayed on the national road to prevent unnecessary entry into the local area. Additionally, the website http://www.visit-stausei.lu provided occupancy forecasts for the region during weekends, allowing visitors to plan accordingly. The website also offers information regarding other tourist attractions in the region.

Further measures to enhance visitor management are in the works, the committee noted, aiming to improve the visitor experience and residents' quality of life while aligning tourism with nature and water conservation. For instance, digital catalogues detailing rules and regulations for nature conservation and water protection areas will be available on the "Digitize the planet" platform (https://digitizetheplanet.org/) currently in preparation.

Furthermore, the mobility offering around the reservoir has been improved, particularly through increased frequency of the “Stauseenavette” (RGTR lines 155/157) on weekends and public holidays. This initiative, favoured by hikers, aims to provide enhanced transportation options for visitors.

The Vëlossummer (bicycle summer) event held in July on the 19.4 km route between Goebelsmühle and Lultzhausen received positive feedback.