Salzach near Werfen, in the background of the Hohe Tauern

The Salzach River is 225 km long, the longest and largest tributary of the Inn in Austria and Germany. The Salzach is one of the great Alpine rivers and drains the eastern Hohe Tauern mountains to the north.

  • 3.1 Water quantity and flood
  • 3.2 regulation of the riverbed
  • 3.3 Water Quality


The Salzach River takes its name from the salt shipping, which was operated until the 19th century on the river. Until 1800, the river was generally Salza (ie the same as a Lower Austrian- Styrian River ); in Latin documents were Iuarum ( old Roman ), or Viarum or Igonta ( Church Latin) used.

Course of the river

Sections of the Salzach

Salzach describes the entire course of the river Salzach. The overflow runs characteristic between the Hohe Tauern and the Salzburg Slate Alps as part of the northeast by west-east direction. Then she describes a knee breaks northward flowing in the middle reaches slate - like northern Alps, and forms in the lower reaches several Talmuldungen in the foothills of the Alps (breakthrough valleys through the rolling hills of the subalpine and Vorlandmolasse ). The sections are named as follows, denominated in the Salzburg provinces, more frequent terms can connote the Nebentalungen more generally:

  • Salzach Pinzgau, also Pinzgauer Salzach valley, the valley portion of the upper course to Lend Quelltal the Salzach River, from its source at Salzachgeier to Vorderkrimml
  • Oberpinzgau, the glacial valley from the Gerlos Pass to room Niedernsill / Kaprun- Piesendorf
  • Under Pinzgau of Bruck / Taxenbach to Lend
  • Salzachtennengau, Tennengauer Salzach Valley, also Halleiner pool, Golling - Halleiner pool, Halleiner widening, or Tennengauer widening, the following Talung the underflow to Hallein
  • Loose Salzach Valley, near Laufen
  • Salzach Burghausen, narrow valley at Burghausen to reach the Inn Valley Öttinger
  • Oberösterreichisches Salzach, the right bank space unit in Upper Austria between the border at Bürmoos / St. Pantaleon and the attainment of the Upper Austrian Inn Valley ( part of the Upper Innviertel )

The southern side valleys of the upper Salzach, in the main Alpine ridge are called Tauern valleys.


The Salzach River rises in the Kitzbühel Alps in the west of Salzburg. The headwaters drain several pastures in around 2,300 meters above sea level between Krimml and the Tyrolean border, 3-5 km north of the Gerlos Pass on the slopes of the Salzach vulture ( 2466 m above sea level. A. ) and the floating head ( 2,354 m). Although some of these side streams are longer, the Salzach applies due to the higher water wealth as the main river. The cirques and alpine pastures have names Salzach ground, origin and Schwebenalm where one of the sources forms a small lake ( floating paints). About 5 km to the south at Vorderkrimml the young Salzach combined with the Krimml River, which is more than half, however, is longer and with nearly three times the average water flow is hydrologically the Hauptquellast the Salzach system.

In about 90 km long upper reaches, whose catchment area roughly coincides with the region of Pinzgau, the Salzach follows a distinctive furrow in west-east direction to Schwarzach where it gradually turns north. The furrow that geologically related with the folding of the Alps, but is still far to the east, where she forms the upper Enns Valley.

As a transition from the upper to middle reaches (St. Johann district) is considered the boundary between the Pinzgau ( political district of Zell am See ) and the Pongau below the industry Lend place. Something previously opens to the north, the Zeller / Saalfelden basin of Lake Zell and the catchment area of ​​Saalachstrasse, of which opens at Salzburg largest tributary of the Salzach separated by a Talwasserscheide. My run was in earlier prehistory of the lower reaches of the river Salzach.

From Krimml until about the beginning of the middle reaches out lead from the south in a regular, almost parallel sequence, the north-south running valleys that come from the main Alpine ridge ( Venice and Glockner group of the Hohe Tauern ). Almost all of these 15 water-rich southern tributaries flow as hanging valleys into the Salzach, because of the Salzach Valley following main glacial glacier could indenting more than the less powerful side glacier. The mouths are increasingly achieved higher eastward across the valley floor and close with almost vertical, deep gorges from. The best known are the Kitzlochklamm ( Rauris ), the Gastein gorge ( Gastein Valley ) and the Liechtenstein Gorge ( Großarltal ).

Middle and lower reaches

In Schwarzach / St. Veit and St. John swings the middle reaches to the north, and widens into a beautiful basin, the Pongauer basin in which is located next to St. Johann and Bischofshofen. The Salzach River breaks through the Pass Lueg in the Canyon of Salzachöfen the northern Limestone Alps between High King / Hagengebirge and Tennen Mountains.

In the lower reaches of the river Salzach leaves the Alps in the Salzburg - free Lassinger basin, flows through the lower Tennengau with Golling and Hallein, and the Flachgau with the city of Salzburg and Freilassing at the Saalachstrasse. Then she breaks the Loose Tight at Oberndorf, flows through the basin and the Tittmoninger Nonnreiter narrowness and flows in the Basin of Überackern between Burghausen on the Salzach and Braunau am Inn, at an altitude of 344 m above sea level. NN in Haiming in the coming of the West Inn.

It forms at about 59 km in length, the border between Austria and Germany, and has a catchment area of ​​around 6,700 km ². The average water discharge at the river mouth is 250 m³ / s


In the province of Salzburg there are the following tributaries:

In the upper and middle reaches: Cleaning Digging, Trattenbach and Dürnbach of the Kitzbühel Alps, Krimml River, Obersulzbach, Untersulzbach, Habach, Hollerbach, Felber Bach, Stubache, Kaprun Ache from the Hohe Tauern, Pinzgau from Lake Zell, Fuscher Ache, Rauris Ache from the Hohe Tauern, Dientener Bach from the slate Alps, Guest Ache, Großarlbach, Kleinarlbach from the Hohe Tauern, Fritz Bach of Dachstein massif, Mühlbach and Blühnbach from the high king.

In the lower reaches: Lammer from the east, Torrener Bach ( Bluntautal ) from the Berchtesgaden Alps, Tauglbach and Almbach from Hintersee, both from the Osterhorngruppe, Königsseeache from the Koenigssee, Kehlbach, Fischach from Wallersee, Klaus Bach, Saalachstrasse as the largest feeder, Sur and Götzinger Achen on Bavarian side, Oichten at Oberndorf and Moosach in the Salzburg - upper Austrian border.


The Salzach River passes through the following towns and cities ( the (G ) denotes those places that touches the Salzach purely as a boundary river ):


In the city of Salzburg there are 13 Salzach bridge for motorized and non - motorized traffic. Downstream there is to this, only cross-border bridges, namely the landmarked bridge between Laufen and Oberndorf and located there as well Europe bridge and a bridge between Tittmoning and Ettenau (municipality Ostermiething ) and two between Burghausen and Oh (municipality stronghold - Ach). At the upper and middle reaches of the river bridges are numerous.

Many of these bridges were repeatedly destroyed by flood. The flood of August 13, 1959 2,100 m³ / s meant the end of the just -built highway bridge below Salzburg, which collapsed due to a Sohldurchschlages.

It is discussed the construction of an additional bridge for cross -border car traffic in the running. So far, no agreement could be achieved despite the detection of an appropriate demand. As obstacle prove, among other riparian protests and a large-scale, standing under a protective riparian forest belt.

Bridge in Hallein with art installation

Mozartsteg in Salzburg

Bridge Oberndorf -Laufen

Bridge Oh -Burghausen


Amount of water and flood

At eight levels in Austria and two in Germany continuously data on water levels and discharge are collected. The mean river discharge increases downstream through the tributaries of the River Salzach:

This is the Salzach one of the largest rivers in Bavaria and Austria. As an alpine river Salzach in adverse weather conditions and long-lasting rain must absorb large water masses. In the period from June to September, this leads to regular floods, rare in winter. Probably the biggest flood in the history of the city of Salzburg on June 25, 1786 is occupied by a high-water mark in the old town. Is on the plaque at the Museum of Natural Salzburg that the Salzach River in May 1571 2.226 people lost their lives, and in July of the following year aroused the 13 houses and barn. The largest volume of water of recent times flowed with 2300-2500 m³ / s on September 14, 1899 by the City of Salzburg, on September 7, 1920 approximately 2,200 m³ / s On 12 August 2002, the Salzach River reached a level of 8.30 m in the city area of Salzburg and was only 10 inches below the critical level, the parts of the old town would have resulted in flooding on. The maximum flow rate of the Salzach was on this day in the city of Salzburg 2,300 cubic meters per second. Below the Saalachstrasse mouth of the 100-year flood discharge is then about 3,100 m³ / s Very rarely are winter floods, on 21 March 2002, the Salzach in Salzburg 1,060 m³ / s, a lot of that about every two years to occur, for the month of March but represents at least a 100 - year flood.

Already on 23 February 1899 the k.u.k. State Government in Salzburg a " temporary curb on the flood information service in the duchy of Salzburg " is introduced. Today, Austria is responsible for warning of floods developed by the Vienna University of Technology Hydrological Information System for Flood Forecasting ( HYDRIS ). Here are included both meteorological and hydrological data, which allow a warning and possible by a flood coordination, a de-accumulation with the help of the power plant chain Medium Salzach.

Regulation of the riverbed

Since the Middle Ages small parts of the Salzach were mounted in the city of Salzburg, Hallein and running with Weidenfaschinen and wood obstruct. The first attempts of Salzach regulation in the form of a continuous trapezoidal profile began secured by stone sets in 1923 in Pinzgau. By building regulations and cultural land has been won, but it was also lost valuable vital riparian forest and the rich structure of the river with gravel islands and countless side arms as a space for animals and humans. After the closed between Bavaria and Austria first contract in Munich in April 1816 was an accurate measurement of the old boundary lines. In December 1820 in Salzburg on the new border was fixed by mutual agreement.

The Brucker threshold was blown up in 1852 and thus a lowering of the Salzach. This could be won in the Pinzgau gradually river near farmland and marshy and half-bog meadows are drained.

In the city of Salzburg itself, also 1852, the first major block stones of the city walls were demolished the next Klausentor and used for the Salzach regulation. The once vast bastions of the New Town and the vast majority of the fortifications of the Old Town side were also such as the Linzertor used as raw material for the Salzach regulation. The painter and council Josef Mayburger sat through a somewhat nicer form- wielding obstruction within the urban area. Black wanted to use for the Salzach regulation, but what could prevent Mayburger also the material of the Muellner jump. The regulation works were completed in 1862 between the city bridge and railway bridge, those between the urban bridge and Karoline bridge then to 1873.

First, the Salzach River (152 m) was below the city of Salzburg with an expanding width of 80 Viennese fathoms provided. The initially very desirable Selbsteintiefung the Salzach remained largely under. Therefore, the total width of the Salzach to 60 fathoms (114 m) was reduced in a further step. Only the significant removal of sediment led to significant depression after 1900. To date, the Salzach dug deeper and deeper into her bed. For decades, this depression has already become a problem. She has now reached a level where the most erodible fine sand and Seetonschichten are only insufficiently or not at all covered. Already a medium-sized flood event can lead to uncontrollable consequences and other sudden depressions several meters ( sole breakdown ). Considerable damage to buildings and surrounding areas would result. Especially for bridge piers and bridge abutments could be an acute hazard arise within a very short time and bring the entire city traffic to a halt. There is therefore a need for action. A Bavarian- Austrian working group has developed solutions and currently leads the first measures of the project "Reconstruction lower Salzach " by. Foreseen include a widening of the river bed and the incorporation of dissolved Sohlrampen and of so-called open revetments. The main objective of the measures is to prevent another depression, and in an intrinsically dynamic process to raise the river bed again and bring this state in a dynamic equilibrium. This causes small areas of valuable vital floodplain may occur. This essential work required to clean up the Salzach to a length of 60 km are associated with a cost of around 300 million euros.

Was started in 2009 as the first section with the gradual widening of the lower Salzach below Weitwörth, combined with an increase of the average Salzach sole. 2010, the widening of the river in the direction of Oberndorf will continue.

Water Quality

Due to a 1895, and in 1960 greatly expanded paper and pulp mill in Hallein dismissed the Salzach 1977, the largest pollution. It was not until 1979, to be introduced by limiting the amount of waste water (1979: 84 t BOD5 per day ( which is about 1.4 million inhabitants equal ); 1985: 54 t; 1988: 20 t; 1990: 15 t; 1999: 8 t; 2002: 2 ​​t) enforced and with the installation of a chlorine- free bleaching in 1991, the quality improved dramatically.

By 1999, the water quality was from the factory with water quality class II -III ( critically polluted ), and 1987 is as low as III -IV. By installing or improving wastewater treatment in autumn 1999 for the first time was the continuous water quality class II ( " low stress " according to the EU Water Framework Directive ) can be achieved below Hallein or to Salzburg Class I - II so that the water quality is adequate for swimming. The rehabilitation of the sewage technology the paper mill was successfully completed in late 2002, but has since introduced daily amount of waste water still represents around 25 % of the total pollution load of the river Salzach.

In the city of Salzburg in 1987 made ​​the use of the wastewater treatment plant Siggerwiesen, which is designed for about 600,000 inhabitants, a further improvement of water quality by half a step. The wastewater treatment plant cleans waste water next to the Salzburg also the surrounding area and from the Bavarian Ainring.

Tourism / Leisure

  • In the House of Nature there is a permanent exhibition lifeline Salzach
  • The well-marked Tauern Bike Path begins at the Krimml waterfalls in the National Park Hohe Tauern and leads to the Salzach, Inn Saalachstrasse and partly on old towpaths ( towpaths ) to Passau.
  • From running and Tittmoning a riverside path leads up to Burghausen (approx. 40 km), the hike can be very good on the German side.
  • Based on the so-called salt navigation Plättenfahrten can be booked at the local tourist offices, which take place in the summer several times a month.