STOP DROUGHT! THE WROCŁAW DEBATE ON COUNTERACTING THE EFFECTS OF DROUGHTS IN CITIES

The topic of the third meeting as part of the public consultations regarding the Drought Effects Counteracting Plan (DECP) draft was minimising the effects of drought in cities. This time, experts from the State Water Holding Polish Waters met with the residents, entrepreneurs and local government representatives in Wrocław. Currently, the Polish Waters holding plans and conducts hydro-technical investment projects aimed at improving water retention, i.e. water storage, in the Lower Silesia region of Poland.

Consultation meetings on the Drought Effects Counteracting Plan (DECP) draft will be held in 15 Polish cities. Previously, such meetings were held in Poznań, Zielona Góra and Wrocław. Their topics primarily concerned drought-related issues in agriculture, water retention in ponds and minimising the effects of drought in urban areas, respectively. The thematic diversity of these individual meetings serves as an excellent indication of the massive, nationwide the scale of drought risk in Poland. The goal of the event held in Wrocław was mainly to draw people’s attention to the fact that droughts can affect cities as well. ‘After consultations with the public have been concluded, we will be certain that no issue was skipped or given cursory treatment, which in turn will make the DECP activity catalogue very thorough and effective’ – explained Wojciech Skowyrski, Deputy Director of the Flood and Drought Protection Department at the State Water Holding Polish Waters.

Due to the specific nature of the effects that droughts have on urban areas, the DECP must include adequate countermeasures that will be suitable for such areas. Managing rainfall and snowfall in places where they occur so that the water obtained, (which comes in excessive amounts at certain times), can be stored until a drier period arrives is crucial. Constructing rainwater tanks is just one of such activities. In Wrocław, residents can already receive subsidies for such projects. It is possible to cut tap water consumption by up to 50% just by storing rainwater. Another way to deal with droughts in urban areas is to set up rain gardens and transform lawns into flower meadows. Any actions that increase water retention in the city can also limit the negative effects of heavy rainfall and even improve its climate.

The Polish Waters Holding plans and implements hydro-technical investment projects in the Lower Silesia region as well. As of today, these projects, which include the construction of water barriers on the river Odra in Malczyce, Lubiąż and Ścinawa, are at various levels of progress.

Public consultations on the DECP project, which are part of the Stop drought! project being implemented by the SWH Polish Waters will last until 15 February 2020, i.e. six months in total. For more information on these meetings, please visit www.stopsuszy.pl . The DECP is the first such comprehensive project on counteracting the effects of drought in Poland. The draft plan is available on the konsultacjesusza.pl and www.stopsuszy.pl  websites. Anyone can submit applications and comments to the DECP programme through a special form available there.

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 the SWH Polish Waters is obliged to prepare a drought effects countermeasure plan due to the provisions of art. 240 par. 2. pt. 8) of the Act of 20 July 2017 – Water Law (Dz.U. of 2018, item 2268, as amended). So far, as part of the Stop drought! project, a DECP preparation methodology was created and an unprecedented survey was conducted consisting of 3,500 entities related to water management, environmental protection and crisis management. In addition to this, 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 at

www.stopsuszy.pl www.konsultacjesusza.pl and www.wody.gov.pl

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