Water – a subjective look at the issue


Water is chemically an oxide of hydrogen. It rubs against the thesis that it is the noblest compound of two otherwise noble gases. It is usually the apotheosis of life, but sometimes it is like the unleashed wrath of nature in the form of monstrous waves or floods. It gives life, but it also destroys without making anyone or anything privileged. Water is powerful and irreplaceable.

Standardized division of waters the basis for their evaluation

Categorization of waters depends on needs, functions, composition, etc. Since 2004, when Poland joined the European Union, the essential functional-use tool for waters is the Water Framework Directive. The basic unit of water management (including environmental protection) – under Polish water law and in accordance with the EU directive – is considered a water body (water body). It is a concept that includes both bodies of standing water and watercourses, as well as coastal sections of marine waters and groundwater.

Water – ecological status and potential and other indicators

The division into natural and heavily modified or artificial surface water bodies is reflected in the classification of their quality. For natural, ecological status is determined, while for heavily altered (e.g., heavily regulated or converted to a dam reservoir) and artificial – ecological potential.

The second component of the assessment is chemical status. The status of surface waters (rivers and dam reservoirs) is assessed for water bodies (water bodies) on the basis of verified results of monitoring studies carried out as part of the State Environmental Monitoring. Primary importance is given to biological elements. Waters are in good condition if they have good or above good ecological status/potential and good chemical status at the same time. As an additional condition, if the water is located in a protected area, it is necessary to meet the requirements specified for the area.

Waters that have an ecological status/potential of moderate, poor or bad and at the same time a chemical status below good and do not meet the additional requirements specified for protected areas are classified as bad.

The goal of the Water Framework Directive is legal and water-law prudence. Of course, the devil is in the details. The “worst decides” rule quite often understates the final assessment. The criteria adopted are intended to protect water, but… they ruin the statements and summaries, distorting the real picture but in this case the end justifies the means. It’s like adopting the principle that the quality of an office is determined by the worst official. It is then necessary to take action to educate, ennoble, support this “worst official”. And such a remedial system, once the weakest parameter is identified, should be implemented to protect the water. This legitimate intention is sometimes easy to achieve, such as by building a treatment plant, and sometimes very difficult and not obvious, such as in the case of bioaccumulative pollutants.

Probably the way of evaluation will evolve, nevertheless we should not expect a revolution.

Simple and precise language of expression a way to reach the audience

And also, for the sake of local patriotism, I must cite the example of Lake Rożnowskie. As it is a fragment of a river, transformed into a dam reservoir, the so-called ecological potential is determined as part of the assessment. People who present information on a topic should have at least a basic knowledge of the subject under discussion. Not wanting to show their lack of competence, they prepare a statement, with a short content, e.g. “Lake Rożnowskie is a heavily modified water body.” And it’s over. To the non-specialist listener, this indicates the rather poor condition of the lake. This is because he does not know that he is dealing with the unit categorization resulting from the Water Framework Directive.

Objectively and subjectively about water

The listener or viewer wants to learn about issues that are important to him, i.e. Whether the water is dirty or clean and whether you can bathe in it. Overcomplicating the reporting language and using specialized descriptions for the average viewer is not only incomprehensible, but also uninteresting.

In order to assess the quality of the water, there is also the question of whether you can drink water from that river or lake. Directly not necessarily, but after treatment – there is no obstacle. Virtually any water is possible to treat and prepare it for consumption – it’s just a matter of time and financial investment.

As for bathing, consider the objective and subjective threads. Objectively, for a bathing area to exist, it must be designated, marked, safe, and must be subject to rigor in the sanitary aspect. However, looking from the point of view of an individual person, subjectivity creeps in. The crystal clear mountain stream, which admittedly meets all the assumptions necessary for a good rating, is not an ideal place for swimming. Only the more daring are tempted to soak their tired feet in the icy water.

In conclusion, it is very difficult to fully objectively assess what quality water is. The numerous factors influencing this, the unspecified research and measurement methods, the criteria adopted and the subjective feelings of the observer and user mean that what is of good quality to one person may not be acceptable to another.

You can obtain information about the state of water in Poland by reading our article titled“Clean water – what does it look like?“.

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