WaterProtect in the spotlights at agricultural fair
Just like last year, the AgroPomerania exhibition in Barzkowice was marked in red on the agenda of the Polish action lab where WaterProtect was one of the exhibitors. The local WaterProtect team ran an extensive information campaign on agricultural-related nitrate pollution in surface water and the fair was also the location for an important stakeholders meeting.
The meeting welcomed a large variety of stakeholders: farmers from the action lab, representatives of the Regional Water Management Board and the catchment boards, the Polish Ministry of Maritime Economy and Inland, the local environmental agencies and local environmentalist organisations. All representatives showed to be active participants.In total over 30 participants were gathered during the workshop. The main purpose of the meeting was to initiate a discussion between representatives of different groups of stakeholders in order to find common understanding of environmental water problems in the Gowienica catchment as well as to find solutions broadly accepted by many groups of stakeholders.The meeting started with an inspiring presentation given by Tom Vereijken from (EWP) European Water Partnership, during which positive examples about how joint actions towards sustainability of agriculture taken on a local scale can improve living and well-being of all stakeholders. The presentation was warmly welcomed by participants of the workshop who appreciated the fact that their voice and opinion can be listen to and passed forward on the level of the EC.
Round table discussions
Following that, four round table discussions were held, during which aspects of water governance structure & strategies, water quality & monitoring, implementation of best management practices and data availability & information system were the main subjects. To facilitate the discussions, participants were divided into four small groups represented by various stakeholders, each of them being mentored by a Waterprotect team member. All groups were discussing the same issues.
Discussions were very lively and proved the need for farmers to communicate with institutional stakeholders on environmental and land management issues in order to develop better governance strategies. Knowledge about local water quality was raised by many as an important input for the decision making process when selecting agro technical measures. Farmers indicated a number of factors that limit their willingness to apply best management practices in their businesses, such as too short land lease agreements and lack of support from local authorities.
The need was expressed to regulate drainage systems on a local scale in a systematic way, overseen by regulators, in order to support farmers and their businesses to minimise the environmental risk.
All participants agreed on the fact that farmers are not the only entities benefiting from the catchment. Some pointed out that the population of the city of Szczecin as direct users of the water of Miedwie lake coming from the Gowienica catchment are also if not the most important beneficiaries. Good water quality is a necessity for the water supply in the city of Szczecin and this depends on the activities in the Gowienica catchment. Hence, the farmers would welcome support from the city in their everyday activities.
WaterProtect on TV!
On the second day on the fair, Anna Kuczynska, coordinator of the Polish Waterprotect team, was interviewed by the regional reporters of the national television TVP about WaterProtect and the information campaign at the fair.
The Polish Waterprotect team finds the importance of information and educational campaigns about water cycle and water pollution resulting from agricultural pressure to be of high importance for success of the project within the Gowienica catchment. Hence, in the coming days, the team will perform a number of meetings within the catchment, including a school visit, with a specific focus on raising awareness.