This study investigates the different stakeholder based discourses and challenges around the Franconian Lake District (FLD), a recently constructed large reservoir system in Germany. The construction and operation of reservoirs represent a massive alteration of their natural and social environments leading to discourses and potential conflicts between a wide scope of heterogeneous interest patterns. Studies have shown that large reservoirs can be an important contributor to water supply, irrigation, energy storage and therefore climate change mitigation on a global scale, which brings these conflicting interests to a broader societal concern. Yet, information about conflicts around existing (German) reservoirs is limited. To assess which issues and conflicts appear on the daily agenda and how they are perceived, communicated and addressed by the stakeholders, a total of 609 articles in the Nürnberger Nachrichten and 22 semi-structured expert interviews were analysed, using qualitative content analysis. The results show that discourses at FLD are predominantly determined by economic factors. Management issues are dominated by discussions about cyanobacteria, which can pose a health risk, thereby impeding recreational use of the lakes and consequently causing economic losses and an image problem for the region. The issue is also strongly interlinked with other aspects of concern and therefore one of the main challenges at the FLD. Due to the construction of the lakes and the evolving strong tourism sector, the formerly agricultural region was subject to a major structural change linking together a very heterogeneous set of interests. The results of this study can help in establishing a management framework to suit all stakeholders and possibly be transferrable to similar projects.
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