Nieuws - 23 mei 2002

Slovak Republic needs to revise water management

Slovak Republic needs to revise water management

Before the Slovak Republic can be considered for EU membership it needs to radically change its water management methods. This became clear to delegates from Slovak water management organisations on a recent visit to the International Institute for Land Reclamation Improvement (ILRI), the Dutch directorate general of Public Works and Water Management, and a number of local water boards here.

The visit of the Slovak water managers was coordinated by ILRI, and the aim was to provide an introduction to water management in the Netherlands. ILRI also plans to do the same for the Czech Republic. Project leader Cor de Jong: "Water management is in need of a thorough overhaul in the Slovak Republic and other Eastern European countries if it is to comply with new European guidelines."

The new EU Water Framework Directive includes provisions for a voice for a wider range of stakeholders in the water management sector. Water management should not only be financed by government, but also by the agricultural sector, industry and the bigger project developers. De Jong: "These issues are totally new for countries like the Slovak Republic. More parties will have to pay for water management, but that also means that far more groups will have a say in the management. At present water management in the Slovak Republic is hierarchically organised. There are four big water boards and one overarching authority. This will have to be transformed into a more democratic form."

The visiting Slovaks were introduced here to new concepts such as direct election of water board managers and the principle 'the polluter pays'. De Jong: "Whether they want a democratic form of water management is questionable, but they do not have much choice in the matter if the Slovak Republic is to join the EU."

De Jong noticed that the visitors were impressed by the way in which water is managed in the Netherlands, especially the way in which landscape and environmental factors carry as much weight as other factors. The low quality of the water in the Slovak Republic is a big problem. Eight Slovak professors are currently working on a plan for a new approach to water management in their country.

Hugo Bouter