Water is a natural resource that is essential for life on Earth. In nature, water constantly circulates. It enters the atmosphere by evaporation and then comes back to the Earth’s surface in the form of precipitation. Some water is then used by biotic communities (green water), some of it flows into rivers and infiltrates the subsoil (blue water), and some of it evaporates.
Only a few percent of all the water on our planet is freshwater, but considerably less than that is accessible freshwater. Consumption of water (drinking or fresh water) has increased six fold over the past 100 years. There are many countries around the world suffering from a severe shortage of water, especially clean drinking water. In view of water consumption so far, the growth of the population and climate change may lead into a world water crisis. In addition, emissions of dangerous substances into water increase and adversely affect the quality of water and suitability of available water resources for use.
Slovenia has rich water resources, although they are not spatially uniformly distributed. Water covers about 272 km2 of Slovenia’s territory, while geologic units, which may store and transmit groundwater, contain about 50 m3/s of dynamic supply.
As in other European countries, overall water resource management is being introduced in Slovenia in accordance with the Water Framework Directive. The priority is eliminating adverse effects on waters, providing an appropriate quality of water for humans and natural ecosystems, and maintaining biodiversity.
In the field of water, the Environmental Agency of the Republic of Slovenia performs the following activities:
- prepares programmes for monitoring the quality of waters (rivers, lakes, groundwater and sea),
- determines water pollution on the basis of psychochemical and biological analyses,
- monitors and measures individual elements of the water cycle at hydrologic monitoring stations for surface water (watercourses, lakes, sea) and for groundwater and springs,
- measures levels and temperature of groundwater, springs, rivers, lakes and sea, and determines changes,
- determines and monitors river discharge regimes, and notes changes on the basis of water level and hydrometric measurements,
- issues warnings of an increased risk of flooding from rivers and sea, and of declining water levels of surface and groundwater,
- manages waters in a manner to protect water in all its forms, regulates waters and decides on the use of water in accordance with the following principles:
- integrity of river basin, taking into account natural processes, water dynamics, interaction and interdependence of water and terestial ecosystems,
- ensuring protection against adverse effects of waters, which arise from security needs of the population and its property,
- preserving and regulating the water quantity,
- achieving good water status in terms of quality,
- long-term protection of available water resources,
- encouraging the sustainable use of water,
- economic evaluation of water (including the costs of water burdening, protection and regulation in the price of water),
- public participation in adopting water management plans,
- considering the best available techniques and scientific findings relating to the principles of nature – all these are realistic goals of water management;
- conducts administrative procedures in relation to water quality, and issues administrative decisions on the basis of regulations dealing with emissions into water and soil,
- conducts administrative procedures and issues administrative decisions on the assessment of environmental taxes and exemption from the payment of environmental taxes with regard to emissions into water (this procedure also involves monitoring payments and administrative execution),
- conducts procedures, keeps the account of water fees and monitors payments,
- draws up operational programmes for reducing emissions into water and soil,
- directs and monitors the implementation of rehabilitation plans,
- issues authorisations for monitoring water and soil,
- keeps databases, records and registers in the area of water quality and quantity,
- monitors and processes reports on waste water monitoring,
- provides expert basis for conducting administrative procedures and preparing regulations in the field of emissions into water and soil,
- prepares implementation programmes in the area of transposition of the EU acquis,
- performs professional tasks to implement international obligations.