Hydrological drought is a serious threat for up to a third of the Lubelskie province of Poland. During the public consultation on the Drought Effects Counteracting Plan (DECP) draft, which took place on 30 September in Lublin, it was noted that apart from actions aimed at improving water storage capabilities, issues like better management of water facilities and hydro-technical devices should also receive attention.
At this time, the State Water Holding Polish Waters plans to five key investment projects in the Lubelskie Voivodeship. All these projects are related to the broadly understood maintenance of the existing hydro-technical facilities. The restoration of Zemborzyckie Lake (primarily by removing sediment from the reservoir basin) will be undertaken between 2019-2022. Of the utmost importance will be work taking place on the Wieprz-Krzna Canal, as well as the Dratów and Mosty reservoirs connected to it. Such investment projects will make it possible to increase the amount of water retained in both the region and the whole country. Currently, only 6.5% of water is retained in Poland on a nationwide scale. As such, increasing the amount of water retained has become one of Poland’s development goals with regard to water management. Apart from water damming as well as constructing and renovating artificial retention reservoirs, restoring natural retention by storing water in agricultural, forestry and urban areas is also meant to facilitate reaching that goal.
‘Acting via SWH Polish Waters, our country will undertake a plethora of investment projects connected with water management. The goal is to, at the very least, double the country’s water retention capacity. Inevitably, some of these activities are aimed at maintaining existing facilities and equipment. Based on Lubelskie Voivodeship’s example, one can easily see that it is just as important as constructing new reservoirs – stated Przemysław Daca, President of the State Water Holding Polish Waters. Mr Daca also noted that consultations had already taken place in a third of the planned locations. ‘This ought to draw our attention to yet another important conclusion on countering the effects of drought in our country. That is, money alone will not suffice to do that effectively. Social mobilisation is equally important, and it must commence on many levels and in various fields, ranging from large investment projects to everyday household activities. From nationwide initiatives down to regional and local programmes, as well as educational, formal and legal activities.’ – he added.
The consultation meeting in Lublin was the fifth in a series of fifteen debates on various aspects of drought prevention across the country organised as part of the DECP project. The public consultation phase will last six months (visit www.stopsuszy.pl for more information on consultation meetings held as part of the programme). 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. You can also submit applications and comments to the DECP programme through a special form available there.
The DECP document will be the most important product of the Stop drought! project, as well as water and flood risk management plans. It will greatly contribute to improving the water management processes in Poland. After the public consultations, which will be open for everyone to take part in and submit their observations and conclusions, the DECP project will undergo a strategic environmental impact assessment. Afterwards, 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). So far, as part of the Stop drought! project, a DECP preparation methodology was created and a survey was conducted of 3,500 entities related to water 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).