Towards joint management of the transboundary Gauja/Koiva river basin district

Environmental specialists

Water protection is a very essential topic in the environmental policy of Latvia and Estonia. It relates to surface and groundwater in each country, as well as common transboundary water bodies in the Gauja river basin territory.

In the both countries, water resources management is organized according to the Water Framework Directive of the European Union (23.10.2000, 2000/60/EK), which determines the water protection policy in the European Union. The requirements of the Directive have been transposed in national legal systems.

For effective management of water resources, Latvia is divided into 4 river basin districts (Daugava, Gauja, Lielupe and Venta), but Estonia into 3 river basin districts (West Estonian, East Estonian and Koiva).

Each of the river basin districts has so called management plan. It is a regional planning document to ensure water protection and sustainability; they are developed for 6 years time period (at the moment the exiting plans are elaborated for 2009-2015).

The aim of a river basin management plan is to improve the quality of surface and underground water and reach a good status of waters, as well as to inform the society about water quality and involve different stakeholders in the process of solving issues connected to water environment. River basin management plans present the current status of water bodies, nominate water quality targets and measures to reach them.

At the moment situation with Gauja River is a little bit strange – one river has 2 management plans – in Latvia for the Gauja River and in Estonia for the Koiva.

But the environmental ministries of both countries already had agreed that for the next period (2015-2021) of the elaboration of river basin management plans the both countries could work together and elaborate one planning document – the Gauja/Koiva River basin district management plan. In order to support this initiative, representatives from the both ministries and various nature experts already are working together in the frame of the project “Towards joint management of the transboundary Gauja/Koiva river basin district”:

  • a joint GIS map for the Gauja/Koiva river basin district is created;
  • an overview of existing methods on determination of water quality status and typology is drafted;
  • new data obtained from additional monitoring to assess the quality status;
  • proposals are being elaborated for necessary changes to harmonize typology and quality classification;
  • quality objectives are being revised according to the specific quality parameters is in the process;
  • methodologies compared to estimate pressures on waters and overview on pressures compiled;
  • observed impacts and their trends evaluated;
  • economic analyses for the significant uses, potential future trends and cost recovery of water services performed;
  • proposal for a program of measures to improve water management is being drafted.

In 2013, project results, data and recommendations will be submitted to the environmental ministries of the both countries. Later in 2015, they would be used when the work on a joint Gauja/Koiva river basin district management plan started.