Preserving Lithuanian water for future generations
“The protection of water and the sustainable management of marine and inland waterways is one of our main environmental challenges,” says Mindaugas Gudas, the Director of the Environment Status Assessment Department at the Lithuanian Environmental Protection Agency.
The Baltic Sea is one of the busiest waterways in the world. The pollution caused by ship emissions, as well as hazardous substances stemming from agricultural and industry, poses a very real threat to Lithuanian drinking water. Approximately 60 % of Lithuania’s rivers and 30 % of its lakes and ponds do not meet minimum European environmental standards.
The knowledge gap on water quality and hazardous substances is significant. This includes a lack of appropriate measures for the monitoring and assessment systems. Gudas is concerned about the current situation:
“Most Lithuanian water bodies are not meeting European standards.”
Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway have set aside more than € 5 million to strengthen Lithuania’s marine and inland waterway management. The funds will be channelled through two projects which have the objective of assisting Lithuanian in meeting its European commitments and ensuring the sustainability of the ecosystem.
The first project aims to improve the monitoring of hazardous substances. The second project will improve the data collection for the assessment of water quality.
According to Gudas, “further collection of biological data will allow a more comprehensive assessment of water quality and thus assist in selecting measures to address problems.”
“This will be an important tool for water management and the analysis of the ecological and chemical status of water bodies”, he continues.
No easy answers
The Norwegian Environment Agency plays a key role in preserving nature, reducing pollution, and shaping Norwegian environmental policy. It will assist the Lithuanian Environmental Protection Agency in the implementation of the projects. Gudas stresses the need for long-term commitment and cooperation:
“There is no quick-fix to our pollution problems, and we are very much dependent on coordinated international efforts to achieve significant results.”
About the project
The project started in April 2013 and will end April 2017.