Michal Kravcik galvanized support to halt a dam planned during the Communist era by proposing effective democratic alternatives, including smaller dams, decentralized water management, and restored farmlands. Kravcik not only voiced opposition against the proposed dam, he also presented an alternative plan in 1994. The “Blue Alternative” provided means to obtain the same amount of drinking water for approximately 20 percent of the cost of the proposed dam, while minimizing the destructive impacts on the environment. One of its key components was that resources were to be managed by a local association of villages, requiring de-centralization of power, a challenge to the old style of government. The alternative included the creation of 35 microbasins in the regions and a series of small weirs and dams on the streams, as well as plans to restore agricultural lands and protect the historical villages.
The Government of the Slovak Republic adopted the Landscape Revitalisation and Integrated River Basin Management Programme at the session on 27 October 2010. It recognized that due to the farming methods (not only) in our territory the landscape’s ability to hold water was substantially weakened. The Programme was based on the principles, rules and framework conditions for ensuring flash flood prevention, drought risks and integrated river basin management.
The Landscape Revitalization Programme’s main tool consisted in improvement of rainwater retention. It set a goal to restore landscape water retention capacity of at least 250 million m3 in damaged parts of the landscape. The costs or financial aid from public funds were set at 4€ per cubic meter of water retention capacity of an element, measure or system.
In a short period of 18 months 488 villages and towns involved in the Programme carried out about 100 thousand different water retention elements in degraded landscape. The landscape water retention capacity of total 10 million m3 was built or restored, which amounted to 4% of total plan during the expected 10-year Programme implementation period. The implementation projects provided total of 7,700 seasonal jobs for local people.
In some cases the investment returned within six months after the measures were implemented before torrential rains in spring and summer 2011. The retained water was gradually released over the period of extreme drought that affected Slovakia in the second half of the same year.The measures should repeatedly bring benefits in the following years. The preference of municipalities in the upper watercourse sections has a positive influence on 500 to 1000 municipalities located lower in the river basins because the measures have a beneficial influence on reduction of flooding risks and drought risks down the watercourse.
The management team effectively cooperated with the Central Office of Labour, Social Affairs and Family in coordination of the application of Act on Employment Services. In the vast majority of cases, local naturally occurring materials such as soil, wood and stone were used for implementing measures.
Although only a small portion of the planned scope of the Programme has been implemented so far, Slovakia has demonstrated an example of a fundamental solution in combating climate change, ecosystem degradation, flooding and drought risks. The Programme fulfils requirements of strategies such as Europe 2020, OECD Green Growth Strategy, Agenda 21and White Paper on adapting to climate change.
Michal Kravcik, People and Water NGO.
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