Water use. Water Intake. Water consumption. Water Services. What you should know

Korzystanie z wód

The term “water use” is familiar to all of us. Many people still associate it only with water pouring from the tap or with leisure and recreation. This article presents the issue in the context of legal considerations. It is useful to know what – according to the regulations – we are allowed, and what kind of water use requires special permits.

Use of water

The use of water is the use of water, such as for municipal, agricultural, forestry, fishing, industrial, energy, shipping and floating, defense, recreational, sports, medicinal and other needs relating to the population and the national economy. As a rule, the use of water must not cause deterioration of its condition and the condition of ecosystems that depend on water.

Water Law of July 20, 2017. It divided the use of water into:

  • common;
  • ordinary;
  • specific.

The general use of water is for personal, household or agricultural needs, without the use of special technical equipment, as well as for recreation, tourism and water sports. Everyone is entitled to the general use of public, inland surface waters, internal sea waters and the waters of the territorial sea, unless, of course, the law provides otherwise.

Ordinary water use is for meeting the needs of one’s own household or farm and involves the abstraction of groundwater or surface water in an annual average amount not exceeding 5m3 per day. The owner of the landed property is entitled to the ordinary use of the waters owned by him and the groundwater located in the land he owns. It is worth pointing out at this point that the right to the ordinary use of water does not authorize the execution of water facilities without the required water consent.

The special use of water goes beyond the common and ordinary. It includes:

  • Use of water for irrigation of land or crops, as well as for agricultural activities within the meaning of Art. 2 paragraph. 2 Law of November 15, 1984. on agricultural tax, in an amount greater than the annual average of 5m3 per day;
  • Use of water for the purposes of economic activities, other than agricultural activities within the meaning of Art. 2 paragraph. 2 of the Law of November 15, 1984. on agricultural tax;
  • Land and crop drainage;
  • Execution on a property with an area of more than 3,500m2 of works or structures permanently connected to the ground, affecting the reduction of natural terrain retention by exclusion of more than 70 percent. The area of the property from the biologically active area in areas not covered by open or closed sewage systems;
  • Water metastasis and artificial groundwater recharge;
  • Fishing use of inland surface waters;
  • Use of water found in ponds and ditches;
  • fish farming in cages;
  • rearing or breeding of fish and other aquatic organisms in artificial water reservoirs located on flowing waters, intended for these purposes;
  • Provision of water for the operation of fish migration facilities;
  • The use of waters for navigation and floating;
  • Introduction of industrial wastewater containing substances particularly harmful to the aquatic environment into sewerage facilities owned by other entities;
  • Agricultural use of wastewater, if the total amount of wastewater is greater than 5m3 per day;
  • The extraction of stone, gravel, sand and other materials from surface waters, including internal marine waters including the internal waters of the Gulf of Gdansk and the waters of the territorial sea, as well as the cutting of plants from waters or the shore.

As a rule, a water permit is required for specific water use. With regard to groundwater, the overriding principle is to use it primarily for the supply of water for human consumption.

Water services and charges for them

Water services are the use of water. They involve providing households, public entities and businesses with the opportunity to use water beyond the scope of common, ordinary or special use.

Water services include:

  • groundwater or surface water extraction;
  • Accumulation, storage or retention of groundwater and surface water, and use of water;
  • Groundwater and surface water treatment and distribution;
  • Collection and treatment of wastewater;
  • The introduction of wastewater into water or land, which includes the introduction of wastewater into water facilities;
  • Use of water for energy purposes, including hydropower;
  • Discharge of rainwater or snowmelt into waters or water facilities, included in open or closed stormwater drainage systems and used for the discharge of precipitation or in combined sewer systems within the administrative boundaries of cities;
  • Permanent dewatering of land, structures or construction pits and mining facilities, as well as the discharge of water from land drainage within the administrative boundaries of cities;
  • Discharge to water or to the ground of extracted and unused water.

The user of water services and performing abstraction of surface water or groundwater or introducing sewage into the water or into the ground is obliged to use measuring instruments that allow, respectively: measuring the amount of water abstraction or the amount and temperature of the introduced sewage, if it introduces into the water or into the ground sewage in an average daily amount of more than 0.01 m3/s. However, these obligations do not apply to landowners who are entitled to ordinary water use.

Nevertheless, landowners who are entitled to the ordinary use of water, and who:

  • perform groundwater or surface water abstraction in an annual average amount exceeding 5m3 per day or
  • introduce wastewater into water or land in excess of a total of 5m3 per day,

shall be obliged to provide the employees of the Water Authority with access to the property to the extent necessary to equip them with measuring instruments, enabling them to measure the amount of water taken or wastewater introduced.

The economic instruments for water management are water service fees. These fees include:

  • groundwater or surface water extraction;
  • Introduction of wastewater into water or land;
  • discharge to water:
    • rainwater or snowmelt captured in open or closed stormwater drainage systems for the disposal of precipitation or combined sewer systems within the administrative boundaries of cities;
    • Water from land drainage within the administrative boundaries of cities;
  • abstraction of groundwater and surface water for the purpose of raising and breeding fish and other aquatic organisms;
  • Introduction into the water or into the ground of wastewater from the rearing or breeding of fish and other aquatic organisms;
  • Reduction of natural terrain retention as a result of performing on a property with an area of more than 3,500m2 works or construction objects permanently connected to the ground, affecting the reduction of this retention by excluding more than 70%. The area of the property from the biologically active area in areas not covered by open or closed sewage systems;
  • The extraction of stone, gravel, sand and other materials from surface waters, including internal marine waters including the internal waters of the Gulf of Gdansk and the waters of the territorial sea, as well as the cutting of plants from waters or the shore.

We will write more about water services and fees in future issues of our newspaper.

Property owners and water use

The owner of a property adjacent to waters subject to common use must provide free access to them. Parts of the property allowing access to water by decision shall designate:

  • alderman,
  • mayor or
  • Mayor.

In addition, the landowner is obliged to remove obstacles and changes in the drainage of water on his land, and which affect neighboring land.

What a landowner is not allowed to do:

  • unless otherwise provided by law, may not change the direction and intensity of the outflow of rainwater or snowmelt water located on his land, or the direction of the outflow of water from springs – to the detriment of neighboring land, and
  • discharge water and introduce wastewater onto neighboring land.

Water abstraction, water consumption – CSO definitions

Every citizen and all sectors of the economy need access to, use of, and abstraction of water in a volume adequate to their needs.

Closely related to the volume of water abstraction is its consumption for the needs of the population and the national economy. According to the definition of the Central Statistical Office (CSO), water consumption is the amount of water used for the needs of the national economy and the population, either from own intakes or from the water supply network or purchased from other entities. In statistics, it represents the sum of water consumption for purposes:

  • Industrial – water used for production, operation, social and administrative purposes (excluding water supplied to residential buildings, such as factory buildings), excluding water sold and water losses in the network;
  • operation of the water supply network – water supplied to: households, individual farms and residents of long-term collective accommodation facilities (e.g., boarding schools, orphanages, nursing homes, monasteries, etc.), entrepreneurs and production facilities in all divisions of the national economy – regardless of whether it was used for production or social and living purposes (e.g., in bathhouses, canteens, office buildings) and other purposes;
  • agriculture and forestry – water used is the same as water taken to fill and replenish fish ponds.

It is also worth noting that until January 31, 2020. water consumption in agriculture and forestry was the same as the amount of water taken for irrigation of agricultural and forestry land and for filling and replenishing fish ponds. At present, it only includes filling and refilling fish ponds. The CSO statistics seem to lack information on total water withdrawals/consumption in agriculture.

Water abstraction, water consumption – CSO data

According to data published by the Central Statistical Office, between 2000 and 2021, water abstraction (excluding irrigation in agriculture and forestry) for the needs of the national economy and population decreased by about 20 percent, i.e. from 10.9 km3 in 2000. To 9.3 km3 in 2021.

Over the past 20 years, the distribution of water withdrawal volumes in the main economic sectors for which data is collected has not changed significantly. The proportions of water use were as follows: 68 percent. For industry, 23 percent. for the municipal economy, 9 percent. For filling and replenishing fish ponds. However, these figures do not illustrate the needs and consumption of water by the broader agricultural sector, including for irrigation.

So where should we get data and information on the actual water withdrawal and consumption needs of the main economic sectors, including agriculture?
The answer to this question is becoming increasingly important and crucial in the context of both the fact that water is becoming an increasingly scarce resource, as well as the challenges and identification of financial needs for activities, among others. related to water for each sector in connection with the Blue Deal.

music-cover