Welcome to the first issue of LIFE GoodWater IP newsletter!
As the year of 2020 is coming to an end, we wish you a Peaceful Christmas and a Happy New Year! It is also a good time to see what this year has brought to us. We have started a new project this year and here we are in its first newsletter.
In this issue we will:
tell you why the project is needed and what its goals are
introduce the project management and its participants
talk about the state of surface waters in Latvia
take a look at the mapping of the Aģe river this summer
inform you about the small grants’ programme
In 2020 an ambitious project was launched in Latvia - LIFE GoodWater IP. The aim of the project is to improve the quality of surface waters in Latvia in the long term. 19 organizations will jointly seek and implement solutions for the improvement of surface waters in Latvia. Activities are planned at an individual and national level, as good water quality can only be achieved by working together. The project will be implemented from 2020 to 2027.
Water is one of the most important resources we have. Without it neither humans nor animals or plants can live. Poor water quality would endanger our own well-being and quality of life.
Nature of Latvia, including the surface water sources, is a part of a common heritage that we have received from the previous generations. It is our duty to ourselves and the future generations to manage our land in a sustainable way.
In Latvia we believe that our country is ecologically clean and rich in pure water sources, but this view is only partially true. Unfortunately, the quality of our surface waters has not been good enough for some time now - only a third of Latvia's rivers and lakes have good ecological status.
The Gauja river, photo: Ainars Gaidis
With this newsletter will will keep you updated about our activities for the months ahead and about the important achievements of the project. We will also provide insight into information about the status of water in the world, as well as show examples of good practice in Latvia and abroad.
You are also very welcome to visit our website www.goodwater.lv, where you will always find the latest information about the project. We also invite you to follow the news on our Facebook profile @GoodwaterIP.
The responsibility for the LIFE GoodWater IPproject management is entrusted to Jānis Šīre and Linda Fībiga - two experienced employees of the project Lead Partner - the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Center.
We are pleased to introduce them!
Jānis Šīre, LIFE GoodWater IP manager
Doctor's degree in geography (Dr.geogr.). 2002-2013 worked for the Environmental Quality Laboratory of the Faculty of Geography and Earth Sciences of the University of Latvia as an environmental engineer and researcher. During his career Jānis has done research on water pollution and water quality issues. Since 2013 he is the Head of the Inland Waters Department of the “Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Center”. Jānis has participated in the preparation and implementation of many local and international projects co-financed by ERDF, ESF, Latvia-Lithuania, Latvia-Estonia cross-border cooperation programmes, as well as Norwegian financial instruments.
Linda Fībiga, LIFE GoodWater IP manager
Master's degree in engineering (Mg.sc.eng.) and bachelor's degree in environmental science (Bc.sc.env.). Since 2006, Linda has been working for the Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Center on the development of river basin management plans and has been preparing programs of measures to improve water quality. She has developed and implemented many international cross-border cooperation programs’ projects - Live Venta, ECOFLOW, WBWjB, BECOSI, INSURE, CWPharma, etc. co-author of LIFE GoodWater IP ideas and project application.
The Current Status of Water in Latvia
The water of Latvia's rivers and lakes is a legacy that we have received from the previous generations. It is our duty to ourselves and the future generations to manage our heritage in such a way, that our resources improve.
Despite its enormous role, water in the world is a very limited and endangered resource. Only 3% of the world's water is freshwater, and less than 1% of the world's water is available for our use. * Climate change, population growth and changing consumption patterns are just some of the threats to freshwater systems. Populations of migratory freshwater species are declining at a tremendous rate, by 76% over the last 50 years worldwide and by 93% in Europe.** We are used to believe that we live in a very “green” country and are fully supplied with very good water, but in reality, the state of our surface water quality is lower than the European average. At present, only a third of the rivers and lakes in Latvia are of good ecological status and this figure is below the EU average where 40% of water sources are in good quality. Only 33% of Latvia's rivers and lakes are of good ecological quality, 56% are of medium quality and 11% are of poor quality. In order for Latvia's nature and people to be continuously provided with good water in the future, we must ensure that the water in all of our rivers and lakes reaches good quality.
Surface Water Quality of Latvia, 2020
The European Union's Water Framework Directive says that 100% of the EU's freshwater ecosystem has to be in good condition by 2027. We still have a long way to go in Latvia to fulfil this task.
For these reasons, 19 organizations in Latvia have joined forces in a unique LIFE GoodWater IP project to seek and implement the solutions for the improvement of water in Latvia.
Every inhabitant of Latvia can help to improve the condition of water with their activities - without polluting water, choosing goods responsibly, using water resources wisely, responsibly using wastewater systems, etc.
In the long term, the water quality in approximately 30% or 50 risk water bodies will be improved, *** by developing, adapting to the conditions in Latvia and introducing various innovative management and governance measures. There are currently 164 risk water bodies in Latvia - 89 rivers and 75 lakes, which are at risk of not reaching good ecological status by 2027. The biggest problems are pollution of plant nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus), as well as modifications of water sources, banks and beds, which prevent water from flowing freely.
What do we intend to do in the LIFE GoodWater IP project?
We plan to:
reduce domestic wastewater pollution;
reduce discharges of nutrients and other pollutants from agricultural land and forests;
reduce the impact of hydrological and morphological transformations on risk objects (HPPs and drainage systems);
improve river basin management planning and implementation;
increase the awareness and involvement of stakeholders in the implementation of river basin development plans;
provide support for the development of legislation and the improvement of environmental policy.
This summer, the Aģe river has been completely mapped within the LIFE GoodWater IP project.For the first time in Latvia, an entire river has been mapped - including all of its most important tributaries. Every meter has been walked, mapped and recorded. Kaspars Abersons, a researcher at the State Scientific Institute BIOR, explains why this was necessary: “In order to solve the problems in our waters, we must fully understand them. We cannot only look at one point in the river, and look for a solution for this point, because it is possible that the cause of the problem is in another section of the river. We have to look at the whole river, and that is why this stage of our project is a very crucial one.”
To be able to measure the success of the project's activities, the river Mergupe and its tributary Zaube were mapped and the balance of the river's sediments were assessed. Additionally, slopes, beaver impacts, and riverbed conditions were recorded when mapping the river. Based on the information obtained, the project partners will be able to jointly decide what needs to be done in the future to improve the quality of the river.
There are different ways to survey a river. In LIFE GoodWater IP, researchers from BIOR and the Latvian Center for Environment, Geology and Meteorology used the most popular and most frequently used method in the world - river habitat assessment method (River Habitat Survey, or RHS). According to this method, a 500-meter-long section of the river is surveyed, and every 50 meters the substrate in the river and on the banks, the type of current, the overgrowth, the width and bank modifications are recorded. This survey also assessed the suitability of the river for trout, using another standardized method - the Trout Habitat Score (THS). Trout is an ecologically sensitive species, the occurrence of which indicates good ecological status of the river. The mapping shows that several sections of Mergupe are suitable for trout, but the actual distribution of this species can only be judged from the fish count.
The mapping of Mergupe was completed in September, while in 2021 similar activities will be performed in Auce and Zaņa.
A Small Grant Programme to Reduce Water Pollution will be Launched Soon
Mergupe river. Photo: Agnija Skuja
LIFE GoodWater IP will be launching a small grant programme to promote cooperation within local communities in order to improve the quality of surface water.
Close cooperation between the local residents of the water catchment area - entrepreneurs, farmers, municipal employees and residents, is at the core of the project, to successfully execute the planned activities. During the project, we will strengthen this cooperation by providing targeted financial support to communities ready to address water pollution in their municipality with low-cost initiatives and measures.
The grant programme will support joint activities, as they are more effective and sustainable than activities which are carried out by municipalities or the government on its own. We are currently preparing to launch the first grant programme aimed at groups willing to improve the quality of local water bodies. The grant scheme is expected to provide additional support for activities and local infrastructure and / or facilities for public water bodies at risk.
When the situation in the country regarding COVID – 19 permits, we will call on local stakeholders to jointly develop a vision for the improvement of polluted water bodies that will take into account all interested parties. During the span of the project, we will support eight initiatives, by selecting the most effective and appropriate solutions, and financially supporting their implementation. The maximum amount available per activity will be 10,000 euros, and the allowed support will be 90-100 % of the total cost of the activity.
The integrated project "Implementation of River Basin Management Plans of Latvia towards good surface water status" (LIFE GOODWATER IP, LIFE18 IPE/LV/000014) has received funding from the LIFE Programme of the European Union and the Administration of Latvian Environmental Protection Fund.
The information reflects only the LIFE GOODWATER IP project beneficiaries' view and the European Commission's Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises is not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained therein.
The integrated project "Implementation of River Basin Management Plans of Latvia towards good surface water status" (LIFE GOODWATER IP, LIFE18 IPE/LV/000014).
The project runs from 2020 to 2027.
The total project budget is 14,568,050.00 €, including EU contribution of 8,677,830.00 €. In addition to the IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of 100 000 000 EUR of complementary funding from EAFRD, CF, ERDF, Norwegian Financial mechanism and other public and private funds.
Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre