Freshwater - Drivers and pressures (Slovenia)
Except the impact of climate changes, significant rise of environmental pressures is not expected.
Agriculture, energy sector and partly tourism remain the key driving forces of pressures to the environment.
The density and total number of inhabitants in Slovenia are gently rising, mainly through immigration but also, once again, from positive natural growth. The number of households is growing, owing to a reduction in the number of household members. Smaller households have higher environmental costs. Growth is being seen primarily in small settlements close to the larger cities, where major investments are needed for the adequate provision of municipal services and infrastructure. Pressure for new construction is greatest in areas of high-quality soil in lowland areas intended for farming (KM17).
In 2006 groundwater bodies held a total of 922 million m3 of available groundwater, or 759 m3 per inhabitant. Use of water in industry has been reduced considerably. By far the greatest use, 99 %, has been for electricity generation. In 2008 more than 82,000 million m3 of water ran through turbines, and was then fully returned to the stream.
Primary importance in drinking water supply in Slovenia is held by the quality of groundwater, since this resource supplies as much as 97 % of the population (VD01).
Data on water abstraction in Slovenia have been reliable since 2002, when the Waters Act laid down the acquisition of water rights for any special use of water. By 2008 around 40,400 legal entities and individuals had acquired rights for special use of water (VD14).
Of the remaining percentage of non-hydroelectric use of water, the major portion – 60-70 % or 800 million m3 – is for electricity generation in thermal power stations. Since 2002 water use for technological purposes has been declining, and accounted for just 4 % in 2007. Other uses – irrigation, snowmaking, beverage production, etc. – represent a small proportion of consumption, but they are growing.
Water demand, Households, Industrial production
Statistics on the quantity of water pumped into the mains water system for use in households and manufacturing indicate a reduction in the last decade, primarily due to more efficient use of water in industry – thanks to the impact of taxes payable for burdening water – and farming. Household consumption of water has not changed significantly.
More than half of Slovenia’s land surface is covered with forest, other mainly natural growth, including natural grassland, wetlands, aquatic, slightly or non-overgrown surfaces, covers 4 %, 35 % is mainly used for farming, while just under 3 % is artificial surfaces (CLC2006,TP01).
Data from the more detailed land use database (Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food of the Republic of Slovenia) indicate that between 2002 and 2007 the total extent of cultivated fields and gardens declined by 15.4 %, hop gardens by 16.3 %, land left to overgrow by 12.9 %, vineyards by 12.4 % and other uses by 20 %. The total extent of forests in this period increased by 1.5 %, olive groves by 41.7 %, grasslands by 6.9 % and extensive orchards by 2.2 % (KM10).
Agriculture is a relatively small sector of the Slovenian economy. Its share in GDP declined to 1.7 % in 2006, and its labour productivity is below the all-economy average.
Mineral fertiliser consumption decreased by 22.8 % between 1992 and 2006, which can be explained by stricter implementation of the principles of good agricultural practice that includes fertilization plans based on soil analyses. There was a downward trend in pesticides in most groundwater bodies between 1993 and 2005. Due to their persistence, atrazine and desethylatrazine are still among the substances that most often exceed the threshold values for individual pesticides in groundwater bodies comprising alluvial aquifers (KM19).
Slovenia derives a major part of its tourism potential from its aquatic wealth. All the natural attractions, whose visitor numbers (TU02) are monitored by Statistical Office of the Republic of Slovenia (SORS), are associated with water. Most important among these are the two biggest Alpine lakes, Bled and Bohinj, and the karst caves of Postojna and Škocjan. Another important element is health spa tourism. With the proper provision of municipal services in growing coastal settlements, the direct input of pollutants into water from tourism has been reduced in recent years, although the need is still growing for the supply of tourist facilities with drinking water. There has also been an increase in maritime traffic and nautical tourism, and consequently a decline in the condition of all environmental components along the coast (TU01).
In recent years, with the increasingly persistent awareness of the possibility of climate change, pressure on water has also been growing in the mountainous areas of Slovenia as, in winter, there is a growing demand for snow-making on ski slopes (VD14).
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
This briefing is part of the EEA's report The European Environment - State and Outlook 2015. The EEA is an official agency of the EU, tasked with providing information on Europe's environment.
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