March 22 is World Water Day, the day on which more attention is focused on water as the source of life on Earth. The quality of water – which depends on the water abstraction method, water use and wastewater management – shows how clean our environment is. Water quality is key for providing a healthy environment and good health of people in cities and rural areas. The theme of this year’s World Water Day is “Water for Cities”. High-quality water provides healthy ecosystems and improves human health. It is therefore important to be aware of the fact that water is the source of life, so our efforts must focus on preserving all its forms and its quality and on appropriate wastewater management.
Slovenia is one of the water-richest countries in Europe
Slovenia is rich in water resources and is therefore among the water-richest countries in Europe. On the territory of Slovenia every year some 34 billion cubic metres of water are running in rivers and streams. As regards the total amount of water per person, this is almost four times above the European average. As most of our rivers take their source in the Alpine world, in the upper parts of these rivers water is still clean enough for drinking. In addition to rivers and streams, the water wealth of Slovenia includes springs, natural and artificial lakes and a part of the Adriatic Sea. How much water is supplied and how is it consumed?
Most of the water for public water supply in Slovenia is abstracted from underground resources. In 2009, for which the latest data are available, the share was 97%. Supply of drinking water from surface waters is declining, mainly due to its poor quality. In 2009 only 3% of drinking water was supplied from surface waters. In 2009, 81 cubic metres of water per person were supplied and 60 cubic metres of water per person were consumed in Slovenia.
In 2009 most water per person (on average 42 cubic metres) was consumed by households. In Slovenia water consumption per household member differed greatly in the eleven largest urban municipalities. The largest amount of water per person (60 cubic metres) was consumed in Ljubljana, followed by Velenje (54 cubic metres), Kranj (52 cubic metres), Celje (47 cubic metres), Koper (45 cubic metres), Maribor and Nova Gorica (43 cubic metres), Murska Sobota (41 cubic metres), Novo Mesto and Ptuj (38 cubic metres), and Slovenj Gradec (26 cubic metres). In other municipalities of Slovenia on average 37 cubic metres of water per person was consumed.
Water consumption per household member has not changed much since 2002: in seven years the total amount of water consumed increased by 0.2%, i.e. to 85.4 million cubic metres or 42 cubic metres per person or about 117 litres per person per day.
The rest of the abstracted water was consumed in various economic and non-economic activities. Calculated per person, in 2009 this amounted to 18 cubic metres. How much wastewater from households is treated?
In 2009, households contributed 38% to wastewater collected in public sewerage systems, industrial activities added 10.4%, services 5.5% and agriculture, forestry and fishing less than 1%. Other water, which includes drainage water and hinterland water, represented 46% of wastewater.
In public sewerage systems 82 cubic metres of water per person were collected, of which 31 cubic metres per person from households. The amount of collected wastewater from households differed greatly in the eleven largest urban municipalities. The largest amount of wastewater per person (60 cubic metres) was collected in Ljubljana, followed by Velenje (55 cubic metres), Maribor (54 cubic metres), Kranj (52 cubic metres), Celje (41 cubic metres), Murska Sobota (38 cubic metres), Koper and Nova Gorica (36 cubic metres), Novo Mesto (30 cubic metres), Ptuj (26 cubic metres) and Slovenj Gradec (25 cubic metres). In other municipalities of Slovenia on average 21 cubic metres of wastewater per person was collected.
Wastewater is partly treated in treatment plants: in 2009, 116 million cubic metres, which is 57 cubic metres per person. The remaining 52 million cubic metres of wastewater was not treated.
Between 2002 and 2009 the amount of treated wastewater per person increased by 32.6%. In 2009, 116 million cubic metres of wastewater was treated, 57 cubic metres per person or about 153 litres per person per day. As regards untreated wastewater, in this period the changes were smaller. In 2009, 52 million cubic metres of wastewater was untreated, 26 cubic metres per person or about 69 litres per person per day. How much water is abstracted, consumed and treated in EU Member States?
The amount of water abstracted, consumed and treated greatly differs among EU Member States. According to Eurostat data for 2007, most water per person per year (more than 100 cubic metres) was abstracted in Ireland and Bulgaria and the least water was abstracted in Latvia, only 6 cubic metres per person per year. In Slovenia the amount was 83 cubic metres per person per year.
Most water per household member is consumed in Cyprus (94 cubic metres), followed by France with 78 cubic metres and Italy with 74 cubic metres. The least water per household member is consumed in Latvia, Lithuania, Malta and Romania. In Slovenia the amount is 61 cubic metres per person per year.
EU Member States have different systems for treating wastewater. About 70% of the EU population is connected to treatment plants. The share of people with this type of wastewater treatment is the highest in the Netherlands (99%), followed by Spain, Germany, Italy and Austria, where the share is 90%. On the other hand, Malta has the lowest share (only 13%) of people connected to treatment plants. In 2007 the share in Slovenia was 48%, which means that our country is among countries with low shares of people connected to treatment plants since a large share of the people in Slovenia still use cesspools.