Large scale cooperation to improve water quality has been started in Latvia!

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Large scale cooperation to improve water quality has been started in Latvia!

There have been different individual and cooperation projects implemented in Latvia to address water management issues during last decades. However, a systematic and downscaled evaluation of specific impacts on water quality by different sectors (urban areas, industries, rural households, agriculture, forests etc.) at the level of water body was missing, as well as solutions to improve water quality needs further developments. In order to test and evaluate integrated approach for water management in Latvia, NGOs, universities, municipalities and state institutions have started the large-scale action – LIFE GoodWater IP project. 

Overall, there are 164 water bodies previously evaluated as being under the risk not to meet the environmental objectives set by the EU Water Framework Directive in Latvia including 89 rivers and 75 lakes. The main problems are caused by nutrients, as well as transformations of shores and beds of water bodies.

The main objective of the project – to improve water quality at ~30% of high-risk water bodies through elaboration and adaptation of innovative water management and governance measures applicable for Latvian conditions.

Surface water is essential part of an ecosystem affecting not only a particular catchment area, but also quality of other water related natural resources. Consequently, surface water quality is interrelated with groundwater and the Baltic Sea. Surface water quality in Latvia is mostly affected by two aspects – losses and transformations of nutrients. Nutrients are mainly transported to water bodies with municipal wastewater and leaching from agricultural and forested areas, which leads to eutrophication. Different artificial transformations (dams, ports, shore fortifications, etc.) are changing natural conditions of water bodies thus influencing also natural habitats. All mentioned aspects are planned to be addressed through the project implementation to facilitate implementation of the Water Framework Directive in Latvia.

Specifically, for agricultural sector it is planned to pilot and test several innovative as well as well-known water protection measures and evaluate their efficiency in Latvian conditions, develop a compensation system for farmers if water protection measures are implemented, and facilitate cooperation among stakeholders to raise awareness about and implement water protection measures. Currently water sampling and mapping of the pilot territories is started. The information will be used for detailed planning of locations and technologies of the measures selected for site specific implementation. It is planned to start practical installation of the measures in 2022.  

The project LIFE GoodWater IP will be implemented from 2020 to 2027. The lead partner of this project is State limited Liability Company “Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre”. The LIFE GoodWater IP is one of ten large scale projects started in 2019 under the EU LIFE Programme. These projects are implemented in 9 EU countries including Cyprus, Estonia, France, Greece, Ireland, Latvia, Slovakia, Czech and Spain with total investments of 101.2 mil. EUR mainly in the environment actions.

Zanda Melnalksne, Union Farmers Parliament

Ainis Lagzdiņš, Latvia University of Life Sciences and Technologies