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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / Country assessments / Latvia / Freshwater - Drivers and pressures (Latvia)

Freshwater - Drivers and pressures (Latvia)

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SOER Common environmental theme from Latvia
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 08 Apr 2011

Water quantity:

Pressures on freshwater quantity

  • The total amount of water abstraction has decreased; the consumption of surface and groundwater has stabilised in recent years
  • The amount of abstracted surface water has decreased
  • The amount of abstracted groundwater has not changed significantly.
  Water5_freshw_resources

 

Figure 5: Freshwater resources and use

Source: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre

 

Water6_Groundw_res


Figure 6: Groundwater resources and use

Source: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre

 

The total amount of water abstraction is falling. Since 1991, abstraction of both ground and surface water has decreased twofold. This trend is explained by the stabilisation of industrial activity following a significant drop in production in the 1990s. It has also been boosted by the modernisation and reconstruction of water management systems in cities and small towns and the installation of water meters which motivate water-saving practices in industry and in households. In 2007, 46 % of water consumption was for municipal use; 26 % for agriculture and 18 % for industry.

Water7_consumption

Figure 7: Water consumption in economic sectors

Source: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre

 

Traditionally, groundwater is the main source of the drinking water supply, both in rural areas and in cities, but problems arise due to the uneven distribution of resources and consumers. Furthermore, increased natural content of iron, manganese, sulphates and other elements at certain locations results in poor-quality drinking water. Surface water is only used in Riga for the drinking water supply.

Water quality:

Pressures on freshwater quality

  • The total amount of wastewater discharge from point sources is not increasing
  • The total amount of nitrogen discharged in surface water together with waste water is not increasing
  • The total amount of phosphorus discharged in surface water together with waste water is decreasing

 

Between 1991 and 2000, the total amount of waste water discharge decreased drastically. After 2000, the total waste water discharge stabilised and is now around 200 million m3 annually. Recent trends indicate that the proportions of untreated waste water and treated waste water that do not comply with the designated treatment standard are decreasing.

 CSI 024 Urban waste water treatment


water8_WWdisch

Figure 8: Total wastewater discharge, 1991– 2007

Source: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre

 

Water9_WWTP_number

Figure 9: Number of wastewater treatment plants, 2000–2007

Source: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre

 

The positive developments in waste water treatment have been brought about by the need for Latvia to meet its obligations under EU Directive 91/271/EEC on urban waste water treatment. These include: the treatment of collected waste water before discharge and improvement of waste water treatment technology in all agglomerations with a population equivalent of over 2 000. Following its accession to the EU, Latvia had three transitional periods during which to meet the obligations of EU Directive 91/271/EEC on urban waste water treatment:

(i)      for agglomerations with a population equivalent of less than 100 000: until 31 December 2008 (two agglomerations);

(ii)    for agglomerations with a population equivalent of 10 000–100 000: until 31 December 2011 (24 agglomerations);

(iii)    for agglomerations with a population equivalent of 2 000–10 000: until 31 December 2015 (62 agglomerations).

The national programme Development of water service infrastructure in agglomerations with a population equivalent below 2000 has made a significant contribution to the renovation and reconstruction of waste water treatment plants and centralised sewage collection systems in small towns. At the end of 2008, projects completed within the framework of this programme provided compliant waste water treatment in 101 populated areas.

 

Nutrient load from point sources

Water10_disch_point

Figure 10: Total nitrogen and phosphorus discharge from point sources

Source: Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Centre

 

Since 2000, total nitrogen discharge has been comparatively stable, with no tendency to increase. Meanwhile, the total phosphorus load from point sources continues to decrease. It appears that diffuse pollution sources are having an increasing impact on freshwater quality and climate change is a significant contributing factor in this process.

 

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