Three steps to… protection, or how to get a decision for a water intake protection zone

ochrony, czyli jak uzyskać decyzję na strefę ochronną ujęcia wody

STEP I. Before you proceed with your intention

Find out what protection your water intake requires. For collective supply intakes, a protection zone will be required, including a direct and indirect protection area. For the rest, a protection zone covering only the direct protection area will be sufficient.

Almost all water intakes, surface and underground, are required to establish a protection zone that includes a direct protection area. The only exceptions are intakes for ordinary use, that is, those from which an individual user takes less than 5 m3 per day.

STEP II. Necessary documents

The protection zone, which includes only the direct protection area, is established ex officio. That is, the locally competent director of the Water Board approves the area of the direct protection zone after the issuance of a water permit for the construction of the intake and/or for the extraction of water from the intake.

According to Art. 136 of the Water Law in the decision indicates four absolute duties to be implemented in the direct protection area. They are:

  1. Drainage of rainwater or snowmelt in such a way as to prevent it from entering water intake facilities;
  2. Landscaping the area with greenery;
  3. Discharge outside the boundary of the direct protection area of wastewater from sanitary facilities for the use of persons employed in the operation of water extraction facilities;
  4. limit the presence of people not employed in the operation of water extraction equipment to the necessary minimum.

The decision will define the area of the direct protection area. If the documentation submitted with the application for a water permit and the operative report includes information on the shape and dimensions of the direct protection area, the authority will accept this information and establish the area of the zone in accordance with the data provided. Otherwise, you will receive a request to supplement the documents with the dimensions and shape of the “direct zone.” This is important because the area should be fenced off and signs should be placed on the fence stating that a protection zone has been established and that unauthorized persons are prohibited from entering.

In the area encompassing the direct protection area, it is forbidden to carry out any activity unrelated to water abstraction. There may be buildings and equipment on it, but only related to the process of operating the intake.

The fee for the issuance of a decision for the protection zone, which includes only the direct protection area, is PLN 10 and should be paid to the account of the Municipality Office competent for the seat of the catchment area management board of the Polish Waters.


In the area of direct protection, land use for purposes unrelated to the operation of the water intake is prohibited. The area should be fenced off. A sign must be placed on the fence stating that a protection zone has been established and that unauthorized entry is prohibited. The design of the board is strictly defined and follows from the provisions of the regulation on the design of information boards on the water intake protection zone:

  • Size: height 400 mm, length 800 mm;
  • shape – rectangle;
  • color-blue RGB: R:41, G:74, B:160;
  • pattern – surrounded by a white stripe 6 mm wide at a distance of 6 mm from the edge;
  • size of the inscription – white letters, size – 110 points, line spacing (interline) – 208 points, font – Arial Black.

You can download it here:

The decision applies to owners of all properties on which it is established. When delimiting its boundary, remember the order to limit the presence in its area of people not employed in the operation of the intake.

We will write about the establishment of a protection zone covering the direct protection area and the indirect protection area by means of a local legal act in subsequent issues.

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