On the 22nd of March, we celebrate the World Water Day. It is also our holiday – the employees of water management. Every day, we care about the country’s water resources. This is our mission, passion and a great responsibility. We know perfectly well that water is important in every aspect of modern life, and the preservation of its resources is also key for future generations. This is the challenge we are taking on today, the most important, especially in the era of changing climate and shrinking water resources, while the population of the country and of the world is growing.
In Polish Waters we know very well that water management should be approached very rationally and comprehensively. That is why the National Water Management Authority was established, so that we could finally look at the issue of water in our country as a whole. Protect people from floods and the effects of drought. Balance the needs of the economy, agriculture and the environment. Finally – take care of water resources. Comprehensively – which means for the whole country and for the next 100 years, because in this perspective we are planning, for example, our activities under the Stop Drought Now Programme!, which we are actively promoting with the latest campaign:
Floods and droughts have always occurred throughout the country. Dry and wetter years have coming and going in alternation. However, we are currently recording a change in the structure of precipitation. Snowless winters and heavy rain in the spring and summer months. In some regions of Poland – in Kuyavia, Greater Poland or Lower Silesia, precipitation accounted for 50% of the long-term norm. Climate change is a great challenge for modern water management. Therefore, we adapt our activities to the latest forecasts and scientific data:
Mitigating the effects of drought is a great challenge today. It consists primarily in improving retention conditions, using the opportunities of the natural environment, building multi-purpose water reservoirs, and promoting water retention solutions using technical devices, e.g. in cities. The National Water Management Authority actively supports local governments in activities aimed at increasing retention capacity and rainwater management.
This year we are also introducing an agricultural irrigation programme. In cooperation with the Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland Navigation, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, local governments and water companies whose membership is comprised of farmers, we have developed a pilot programme for shaping water resources in agricultural areas. It is an innovative approach to the management of riverbed retention, restoration of coastal river backwaters, construction or reconstruction of valves on drainage and irrigation ditches. It is a very comprehensive approach due to combining the interests of agriculture and the environment. The pilot programme is currently carried out in the West Pomeranian Voivodeship. And the start in all Regional Water Management Boards throughout the country is planned for spring this year. The National Water Management Authority actively supports other programmes for farmers, such as ARMA activities.
In order to improve conditions, it is necessary to rewild rivers and restore wetlands where possible. The National Water Management Authority is currently implementing a national surface water renaturisation programme. Within the framework of this programme, we work to increase the natural valley and river retention. Investments in this area will be possible to implement after the project is completed. The programme will be associated with other planning documents, such as a plan to counteract the effects of drought, water management plans or flood risk management plans.
Above all, however, we need to accumulate water in the environment by creating various types of water reservoirs. In Polish Waters, we consider the construction of retention reservoirs as one of the key solutions helpful in limiting the effects of both water deficit and in periods of high water caused by sudden rainfall. In the face of escalating climate change, this is the most effective solution to ensure the right amount of water needed for people, the economy and the environment. We currently retain only 6.5% of water in Poland. The goal of water management is to double the retention. For example, in Spain it reaches 45%. Moreover, the country has 1,900 reservoirs, whereas in Poland there are only 100 reservoirs. So we have a lot to do. The current plan assuming doubling the retention capacity in Poland is scheduled for 2027. Then probably more assumptions will appear, because retention in Poland must be gradually increased.
This year, we will finish working on the first Drought Effects Counteracting Plan (DECP) in Poland. This is one of the main planning documents that are to support sustainable water management throughout the country. The document will include list of recommended investments for specific gminas and regions. The goal is the widely understood improvement of water safety in Poland. A plan to counteract the effects of drought will be adopted at the end of this year by ordinance of the minister competent for water management. The document will be helpful, for example in creating spatial development plans by gminas. It will contain various indications such as the creation of green areas in cities under the so-called blue-green infrastructure, recreation of mid-field ponds or ponds in farmlands and wastelands, etc.
We also focus on education in Polish Waters. Both in terms of good practices that we have developed and pass on to our contractors, and in educating children and young people in the field of caring for the aquatic environment. Our employees create interesting, original educational projects that can be found on our Facebook page. They even record cartoons, for which they create beautiful illustrations. Water is our joint work and passion. Be sure to see:
Social Communication Team
PGW Polish Waters
Warta River-Mouth National Park, fot. Jerzy Malicki z Polish Water, RZGW in Wroclaw.