Daugava undergoes water study

  • 2000-05-11
  • By Marta Kirse
RIGA - On May 3, former Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development Vents Balodis announced the commencement of the Daugava Project. The Latvian-Swedish cooperative program aims to produce a reconstruction plan for the management of the Daugava basin. The project will incorporate directives from the EU.

"There are two components to coming up with a basin management plan," said Daugava Project manager, Indrikis Barkans. "First, we must assess the water quality in the catchment area of the river. Secondly is to implement an action program of development."

This part of the project is based on the philosophy of learning by doing. Latvian environmentalists will participate in workshops and seminars on water basin management and implementation. Swedish water management specialists will lecture on these issues. Since the early 1990s, Swedish environmentalists have worked alongside Latvian specialists on solutions to water pollution and implementation of technical facilities to aid in the cleaning of Latvia's waterways.

The two-year project began in March of this year and will end in April 2002. The Latvian Environmental Fund has pledged 150,000 lats ($254,237) and is also receiving financial assistance from the Swedish Environmental Protection Agency.

Latvia's largest river, the Daugava, is 357 km within the territory and extends from the Latvian-Belarusian border to the Gulf of Riga. Not only is the capital city of Riga located on its shores, but also the industrial towns of Daugavpils and Jekabpils. During Soviet times, the river was a dumping ground for all municipal and industrial waste, as well as a catchment for run-off of agricultural fertilizers. For Latvians, it not only serves as the chief geographical point of reference, but also an integral part of ancient mythology and cultural history.