According to environmental data, which has significantly improved over the last few years, more than half of the rivers and lakes of Estonia are in good condition, about 30% are in moderate and almost 8% in bad condition.
„The knowledge about the condition of waters is becoming more and more specific in Estonia, but the news is not always positive. In general and in a European context our situation is satisfying, of course, but it doesn’t mean we can take the subject lightly – after all, it is our environment we a talking about, and not just a statistical report,” commented Minister of the Environment Mati Raidma.
According to current estimates, about 62% of the surface water of Estonia has a good status, almost 30% are in moderate status and 8% are in bad status. 79% of Estonia's ground waters have achieved good status and 21% are in bad status. During the last two years, the status of 155 water bodies has worsened and for 72 water bodies the status has improved.
When assessing water status, the chemical quality of the water, the condition of the biota (i.e. algae, macroflora, invertebrates, fish) of the water body and the flow regime (flow rate, natural shoreline, flow velocity, damming influences, etc.) are taken into consideration. Due to improved methods, the assessment of the quality of water bodies has become more precise and objective.
The chemical status of water bodies is impaired by different contaminants, for example, mercury, nickel, cadmium and residues of drugs. The ecological status is threatened by excess nitrogen and phosphorus, resulting in vegetal invasion of waters and algal or aquatic weed bloom, which, in turn, are the cause for hypoxia in water bodies.
Damming of rivers is another factor that deteriorates the condition of water bodies because dams prevent the flow of water and plants and impede the free migration of fish and other wildlife which results in impaired natural habitats, fish fauna, shoreline of water bodies and ground, and deteriorated water quality.
On 22 March, World Water Day was celebrated, and this year the focus was on water and sustainable development. World Water Day, sponsored by the United Nations, was celebrated for the 22nd time. In previous years World Water day has been dedicated, for example, to groundwater as the invisible resource, water and disasters, water and food security, water for growing cities, and water and energy which are closely interlinked.