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22 March – World Water Day

Ljubljana, 22 March 2017 – In 1993, the General Assembly of the United Nations (UN) proclaimed 22 March as World Water Day to draw global attention to the importance of water resources and the necessity of good water management. The theme of 2017 is wastewater, therefore the awareness-rising on wastewater and its reuse. Water has to be carefully managed through each stage of the water cycle, from fresh water extraction, pre-treatment, distribution, use, collection and post-treatment, to the use of treated wastewater and its ultimate return to the environment, ready to be extracted to start the cycle again.

Water is very important for the agriculture sector, as it is necessary for animal husbandry and is also of the utmost importance for growing food. The most burdened bodies of water in Slovenia are the underground ones in the north-eastern part of the country. The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Food pays close attention to this area, inter alia within the framework of agricultural and environmental measures. Climate change is an important factor in the availability of water resources, resulting in increasingly frequent droughts. 

 

Agricultural production is heavily dependent on natural conditions (soil, water and climate).  Climate change (increase in average annual temperatures, decrease in precipitation, increase in evapotranspiration, increase in extreme events  such as drought, floods, storms, frost) dictates the growing need for irrigation of crops and via this, consumption of water.

 

The impact of climate change on agricultural production can be reduced by constructing irrigation systems and irrigating agricultural land, which must be carefully and expertly planned.  Water resources for irrigation purposes include both surface and ground water.

 

According to the Draft Action Plan for Development of Irrigation in Slovenia for the future period, the Ministry estimates that for the construction of approximately 10,000 ha of new irrigation systems and reconstruction of 2,000 ha of the existing ones, 16.275–21.7 million m3 of water per year would be necessary. 

 

In the construction of irrigation systems such irrigation technologies will be selected that ensure the achievement of a good quantitative, ecological and chemical status for various bodies of water and prevent the deterioration of said status, as well as prevent eutrophication and pollution of surface and ground waters 

 

Water is crucial for forests, which cover a third of the land on our planet, and the survival of more than 1.6 billion people directly depends on the forests. Forest and wet land areas are the source of 75% of accessible drinking water at the global level. Water in forests enables their emergence, existence and survival. However, forests are not merely consumers of water; there are more two-way connections than meet the eye. Forests act as a natural water filter, a reservoir, and last but not least as a factor that significantly influences the movements of water flow. Water in nature permeates various vegetation and soil layers and is purified in the process. At the same time plants and forest soil accumulate enormous quantities of water, which would otherwise freely drain along the surface and often result in effects that could be more negative than the current effects. In other words, if there were no forests, there would be more floods, earthslides and torrent effects, and local climates would probably be quite different.

 

Last but not least, water is also a living environment for aquatic organisms, which are an important source of food for animals and humans. Fish is considered healthy food and a source of essential amino acids and non-saturated fat acids.

 

Water is of central importance to human survival, the environment and the economy. According to UN data, there are approximately 1.5 billion people employed in activities related to water around the world. Sustainable water management in the broadest sense of the word, involving the protection and restoration of ecosystems, integrated management of water resources and development, operation and maintenance of the infrastructure in connection with access to a safe and reliable water supply at affordable prices, and adequate sanitary services create a stimulating environment for long-term employment opportunities and development and growth in various industries.