Strict protection of intakes, or what’s behind that fence

za tym ogrodzeniem

Prevention is better than cure – also for the protection of drinking water such a premise has been introduced. The precursor of preventive medicine – Hippocrates – may not have had water intakes in mind, but the principle holds true here as well. Protection of water intakes involves the establishment of a protection zone, that is, eliminating the possibility of contamination of resources before they are extracted and transferred to the water supply system.

In the Water Law, in Art. 120 indicated the possibility of establishing an intake protection zone to prevent water pollution and reduce its suitability for food use. In the area of the protection zone, the owner of the intake may indicate orders, prohibitions and restrictions, choosing from those defined in the law. The catalog includes 26 activities that may adversely affect the quality of the captured waters and which may be prohibited in the area of the zone for this reason. Among the most significant and stringent prohibitions, regarding land use and water use, are:

  • Prohibition of the introduction of wastewater into water or land;
  • The ban on the use of fertilizers and plant protection products;
  • Prohibit the location of residential buildings and construction facilities related to tourism;
  • prohibiting the location of new projects that may have a significant impact on the environment.

According to the law, all owners of intakes for public water supply purposes had until the end of 2022. carry out an analysis of the necessity of establishing a protection zone and identify proposals for prohibitions that should apply to it. The so-called “Risk Analysis,” submitted to the governor, is to be the basis for establishing a protection zone.

What’s behind that fence?

Until the provincial governor establishes protection zones that include an indirect protection area, each intake serving the collective supply of water to the public should have at least a direct protection area. Strict protection is in force on it, including a ban on unauthorized persons. The area is fenced and gated, nothing can be on it that is not for the purpose of drawing water and no one who is not employed at the intake. The owner of the intake is responsible for implementing this protection.

Prevention, or prevention is better than cure

Will the Hippocratic principle work in this case and will all shots have effective protection? The idea of establishing zones is definitely the right thing to do, but unfortunately it comes with a lot of risks. Indeed, the law indicates that all the costs of establishing a protection zone are borne by the owner of the intake, as are the costs of compensation for prohibitions and restrictions.

We will check for you how many water supply companies have prepared and submitted a risk analysis to the governor, and how many protective zones have already been established.

Who can afford to protect the intake – information in future issues of Water Issues.

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