Clean fresh water is essential for life. There is enough of it in Estonia due to climatic conditions and the small population. Fresh water is found both in groundwater and bodies of surface water.
The water need of the majority of Estonian settlements and enterprises is covered by groundwater. In Tallinn and Narva, and also in some industrial undertakings (incl. in Sillamäe, Kohtla-Järve, Kunda), surface water is mainly used, because groundwater resources would not be enough there.
The water extraction of Estonia diminished constantly in the 1990s, reaching the level below 100 million m³ per year. During the last ten years, water extraction indicators have been relatively stable. Groundwater is used in the range of 45-50 mln m³ per year and surface water, 50-57 mln m³ per year.
Of cities, largest water consumers are Tallinn and Narva. In 2011, the inhabitants of Tallinn used the approximate of 21.5 mln m³ of surface water from the Ülemiste Lake, while the extraction of groundwater was below 2.5 mln m³. This indicates that the extraction of groundwater has decreased in Tallinn during the last four years by about a half, while the consumption of surface water has remained the same. In 2011, the consumption of Narva city was 6.46 mln m³ of surface water and 6.5 mln m³ of groundwater.
The amount of industrial water has decreased in comparison to the beginning of the 1990s by five times, which is caused by using sustainable production technology and the reuse of water. The amount of agricultural water has decreased in the same time by about 7.5 times, which is mainly caused by the decrease of agricultural activities.
The smallest change in amounts has occurred in terms of water intended for human consumption, remaining in the last ten years mainly below 50 mln m³ a year.
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