Country’s groundwater resources estimated at the value of gold2016-03-22
Today marks the World Water Day that gives an opportunity for the public to learn more about the water resources and take action to ensure their most rational use. This day was announced by the United Nations in 1992, and Lithuania has been celebrating this event on the initiative of the Ministry of Environment since 2000.
This year, the key topic of the World Water Day is water and work. Almost a half of all humanity, in particular 1.5 billion people on the planet, works in water-related sectors.
Water is dearer than gold for humanity. Due to poor hygiene and water supply, each year the world sees the deaths of more than two million children, and one-fourth of the population in the developing countries lives in poverty and an environment that is a health hazard.
Our country is rich in fresh water resources. We are almost the only European state that uses groundwater for drinking exclusively. Therefore these water resources are estimated at the value of gold. According to the information of the Lithuanian Geological Survey under the Ministry of Environment, last year groundwater abstraction in Lithuania amounted to over 132 mln. cubic metres, with mineral water only accounting for a very small share or 121 700 cubic metres.
Geologists have determined that the daily safe abstraction of groundwater without disrupting the natural balance can be as many as 3.72 mln. cubic metres in Lithuania. Thus the amount used at present only accounts for about 10 percent of the potential output. Since these are renewable resources, they will last long irrespective of any possible climate change scenarios. Therefore the main objective is to preserve the quality rather than the quantity of the groundwater resources. The National Environmental Strategy stipulates that, with a view to preserving the groundwater resources of all types, it is necessary to upgrade the studies, evaluation, approval and accounting of those resources, draw up an inventory of the sources of groundwater pollution and improve the monitoring, use and pollution prevention control systems of these resources.
The status of surface water bodies is a much greater concern. About 65 percent of the country’s rivers and lakes do not meet the good water status requirements. Due to intensive human economic activities, water bodies face siltation, plant overgrowth, bloom and reduced fish variety. They mostly suffer from agricultural pollution resulting from the high concentrations of ammonium nitrate and total nitrogen. The status of water bodies should improve significantly upon implementation of the Water Sector Development Programme for 2016-2021 prepared by the Ministry of Environment. After the harmonisation of this programme with other institutions is completed, shortly thereafter the programme will be submitted to the Government for approval.