Establishing a water quality monitoring network and raising awareness to protect drinking water resources

In the Poland  Action Lab there has been a lot of activity since the start of the project. Meetings with local stakeholders and authorities as well as farmers’ meetings have been organized. At the same time, efforts have been  made to establish the monitoring of water quality (both surface and groundwater) - an essential part of the project.

The Gowienica Miedwiańska catchment is an area where 96% of the land use  is agriculture  and only 2.5% of the land use is forest. In recent years the farming system has become more intensive with large scale industrial farms cultivating predominantly maize, using high fertilizer and plant protection product application rates. There are also cases of illegal sewage water discharges into the River Gowienica. This has caused environmental pressures, resulting in threats to the local drinking water sources.

In the summer of 2017 the Polish team lead by the Polish Geological Institute organized several information meetings with the local stakeholders. At the same time a new, extensive monitoring campaign of the waters within the area of the Gowienica Miedwiańska catchment was started.

WaterProtect Action Lab Poland: awareness to protect  drinking water resources

This should give better insights into the functioning of the catchment and the environmental pressures. The information will be the basis for developing an optimized management of the water resources in the catchment. During several fieldtrips to  the catchment area the best locations for monitoring the surface and groundwater resources were selected.

Information campaign at Agro Pomerania

In September, WaterProtect was represented by PGI at the Agro Pomerania 2017, the major Agricultural Fair in the northwest of Poland. An information campaign at the Fair highlighted the problems of nitrate pollution in surface and groundwater. Visitors were invited to see the results of water testing for nitrates at the PGI stand.

WaterProtect Action Lab Poland: Information campaign at Agro Pomerania

Stakeholders meetings

During the Fair the first workshop meeting  with institutional stakeholders was held, during which a brainstorming session on the causes of water quality problems within the catchment was carried out. Many participants  pointed out the formal and legal obstructions for farmers and the lack of good control mechanisms.

Asubsequent meeting with institutional stakeholders took place in April 2018 during which the WaterProtect team presented results of the project with respect to problems identified by stakeholders during the Fair. Another brainstorming session was organized which was devoted to the functionality of a collaborative tool that will be developed for the WaterProtect Action Labs.

WaterProtect Action Lab Poland: Stakeholders meetings

The aim of the collaborative tool is to exchange data and information between stakeholders to promote better decision making, and a more rational management of water.

Monitoring and site investigations

In October 2017, a systematic water sampling campaign started at more than twenty monitoring points in the Poland Action Lab. Among these points there were eight points for surface water, ten for groundwater and three for sewage water  (the treatment plants at Reńsk, Barnicach and Wójcin). Depending on the type of water, samples are collected on a monthly or quarterly basis.

In March 2018 infrared imaging was performed along the whole length of the River Gowienica to identify illegal sewage discharges into the river.

WaterProtect Action Lab Poland: Monitoring and site investigations

Data were collected from the air using a drone and a FLIR (Forward looking infrared) camera and showed 10 potential areas, which will be investigated in more  detail during the project.

Farmers’ meetings

In November 2017 the first three of fifteen meetings with farmers for WaterProtect took place in the communities of Warnice, Stargard and Kobylanka. At the meetings the farmers received general information about water pollution within the catchment as well as information about  a number of the best management practices that could be implemented to obtain a reduction in fertilizer application rates.In February 2018, new meetings with farmers from the Gowienica Miedwańska catchment took place in the communities of Warnice, Obryta, Barnim Reńsko, Wójcin, Barnim, Kłodzino, Moskorzyn, Kałby, Nowy Przylep. During the meetings  general information about water pollution within the catchment was shown, as well as a number of the best management practices that could be implemented to reduce fertilizer application rates. There were also data collected through a questionnaire form. The events were organised by the West Pomeranian Agricultural Advisory Center in Barzkowice in cooperation with the Institute of Technology and Life Sciences in Falenty.

WaterProtect Action Lab Poland: Farmers’ meetings
WaterProtect Action Lab Poland: Farmers’ meetings