Integrated marine and inland water management

Key facts

Programme Operator:
Ministry of Environment
Programme ID:
Programme Donors:
Norwegian Environment Agency (NEA)
Date of approval:
Total amount:
EEA Grants fund:
Norway Grants fund:
€ 0

Currently available funding

Programme Summary

Why was the programme needed? Lithuania is abundant in water resources, but is experiencing significant external pressures from various pollution sources. Several decades ago, the main pollution loads originated from municipal and industrial point sources, agricultural non-point run-off, and long-range transboundary air pollution. Since the 1990s the national and local authorities have consistently invested in wastewater treatment infrastructure with impressive results– practically all collected wastewater is now treated in accordance with regulations. On the other hand, diffused pollution from agricultural fields and long-range transboundary air pollution, which affects the quality of marine and inland waters, has proven to be more difficult to tackle. As a result, 51% of rivers and 40% of lakes still do not meet the requirements of good ecological status. The Lithuanian Integrated Marine and Inland Water Management programme aimed to cover knowledge gaps on the state of Lithuania’s lakes and rivers through development of monitoring methodologies and the collection of data. The programme, with around 4 500 000 euros in funding from the EEA Grants, supported several pilot scale activities that demonstrated efficient nature-based solutions for reduction of diffused pollution from agricultural fields. The programme was implemented by the Ministry of Environment, with assistance from the Norwegian Environment Agency (Miljødirektoratet – NEA) as a Donor Programme Partner (DPP). What did the programme achieve? The programme implemented two projects with a focus on improving monitoring capacity of Lithuania’s water resources, restoring wetland ecosystems, and gathering data for assessment of transboundary air pollution and hazardous substances and the effects on water bodies. The projects aimed to implement pilot and/or demonstration measures that will serve as best practice guidelines and further replication, for instance in programmes under the EU Structural and Investment Funds. The two projects succeeded in creating three inventories of hazardous substances emissions, discharges and losses into Lithuania’s water bodies. These inventories can be used in decision-making processes and monitoring programmes that seek to reduce marine damage from hazardous substances. The inventories have already enabled Lithuania to update and revise its monitoring programmes of priority hazardous substances for 2016-2020, ensuring that the country complies with EU reporting requirements. One of the projects also collected data on air emissions and long-range transboundary air pollution and analysed its effects on natural ecosystems in the country.  Additionally, a system for control of discharge of ballast waters from the shipping industry was developed. Moreover, results from the programme were used to develop Lithuania’s Action Program in Water Sector 2017-2023, which was approved by the cabinet in 2017. The action program lists several hundred activities to be implemented in the period 2017-2023 and covers nearly all water-related aspects, ranging from improvement of status in natural surface and underground water bodies to flood protection measures and construction of fish ladders. In addition, data obtained through the projects will be used when drafting the Programme for Reduction of Water Pollution with Hazardous Substances (due in 2018). Other, more direct project results include the construction of an artificial wetland together with sedimentation ponds in a region of intensive agricultural activities, the re-naturalisation of selected sections of straightened rivers and the construction of a fish ladder on a salmon river – all of which had a direct and measurable impact on the status of those water bodies and their biota.How were bilateral relations strengthened? The Lithuanian Ministry of Environment and the DPP primarily used bilateral funds to ensure a joint strategic development of the programme. The programme was designed so as to build in the experience of NEA in water management and water-related issues. The various project promoters were able to gain new knowledge and learn from Norwegian management experience within the field of water management, thanks to the liaison between the Ministry of Environment and NEA. What will be the impact of the programme? The results achieved in the projects have already been used to provide information to decision-makers on water-related matters in Lithuania and are being used in the development of action programmes to improve the status of the country’s water bodies.