STOP DROUGHT! COMPREHENSIVE WATER RETENTION – AN ANTIDOTE FOR HYDROLOGICAL DROUGHT IN THE POMORSKIE VOIVODESHIP

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Frequent, intensive and prolonged hydrological droughts pose a serious threat to nearly 35% of the total area in the Pomorskie Voivodeship. During the public consultation meeting on drafting the Drought Effects Counteracting Plan (DECP), which took place on 22 October in Gdańsk, it was emphasised that the hydrological drought threat in the basin of the Vistula, the largest Polish river, is so severe that introducing comprehensive retention measures is a must.

Experts have once again drawn the public’s attention to the need for storing water – something that they have regularly underlined during these meetings. In the DECP catalogue of 25 actions necessary to effectively counteract the effects of drought, increasing water availability on the national, regional and local scales is the main priority.

This is precisely the nature of the investment projects that include damming the waters of the Brzuchowo and Mała Cerkwica lakes, situated between Kamień Krajeński and Pamiętów. “The projects are aimed at developing natural retention and maintaining the biodiversity of the aquatic ecosystems in the Kashubian Lake District and Tuchola Forest regions, as they have a high potential to increase the amount of water in the Pomeranian Voivodeship as a whole. All these activities are designed to make the region more resilient to the negative effects of drought”, explained Aleksandra Bodnar, Director of Polish Waters’ Regional Water Management Board in Gdańsk.

Bodnar also stated that due to the high risk of hydrological drought in the Pomerania and Kujawy regions, increasing the artificial retention of small and large water reservoirs is an absolute necessity.
“One of Polish Waters’ most important projects will be to construct a second barrage on the lower part of the Vistula, which will be located in Siarzewo”, she added.

Consultation meetings on the DECP project had already been held in Poznań, Zielona Góra, Wrocław, Gliwice, Lublin, Rzeszów, Kraków, Szczecin and Koszalin. Prior to the end of this year, debates are planned to take place in Bydgoszcz, Olsztyn, Białystok and Łódź as well. The public consultation phase will last until the final meeting in Warsaw in February 2020 (see www.stopsuszy.pl for more information on these meetings). The DECP is the first such comprehensive project on counteracting the effects of drought in Poland. Information about the DECP project is available at www.stopsuszy.pl and www.konsultacjesusza.pl. They also allow you to submit applications and comments to the DECP programme through a special form.

The DECP document, which will be the most important product of the Stop Drought! project, as well as the water and flood risk management plans, will greatly contribute to improving the water management processes in Poland. Following the public consultations, the DECP project will undergo a strategic environmental impact assessment. Following this, in 2020, the final step will be to formally adopt the project via a regulation prepared by the minister responsible for water management. At that point, Poland will join the group of 10 European countries that have developed drought countermeasure plans. Similar projects have already been implemented by such countries as the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Portugal, Slovakia and Ukraine.

The President of SWH Polish Waters is obliged to prepare a drought effects countermeasure plan under the provisions of art. 240 par. 2. pt. 8 of the Act of 20 July 2017 – Water Law (Dz.U. of 2018, item 2268). So far, as part of the Stop Drought! project, a DECP preparation methodology has been created and a survey conducted of 3,500 entities, related to water management. In addition, the draft plan of the project was presented at national expert conferences and as part of the ‘Remember about water!’ social campaign. All works are financed via European funds (OPI&E 2014–2020).

Find out more here: www.stopsuszy.pl, www.wody.gov.pl and www.konsultacjesusza.pl.