Ziemelsuseja - Elaboration of a new comprehensive Ziemelsuseja River Basin Management System based on ecosystem approach and wide stakeholders involvement into decision-making process at local level

LIFE02 ENV/LV/000481

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Contact details:

Project Manager: Inese VITOLA
Tel: 371 65281217
Fax: 371 65 281211
Email: inese.vitola@jekabpils-rp.lv

Project description:


From 2000-2001 the Regional Environmental Centre (REC) conducted a feasibility study on the Ziemelsuseja river basin (as part of a project on the Daugava river, a 1,005 km long river which crosses Russia, Belarus and Latvia). The study revealed that the low standard of the drinking water and the pollution of the river were due to obsolete municipal waste water treatment (WWT) facilities. The poor quality of the drinking water was furthermore caused by the natural characteristics of the water (extensive level of iron), worn-out water supply systems and poor protection measures at the water extraction sources. Since 1997 Latvia has been implementing the “Investment programme 800+” for the development of infrastructure in the municipal water sector. However, this programme primarily catered for larger municipalities with a population of more than 2,000. This meant that smaller municipalities – that is, those with a population of less than 1,000, which make up 70% of the Latvian local municipalities – had little opportunity to improve their water-sector infrastructure.


The “ZIEMELSUSEJA” project had several overriding objectives, all focussing on solving water sector problems in a number of small rural municipalities that are located in the Ziemelsuseja river basin. It aimed to: • Decrease the pollution load in the Ziemelsuseja river basin which contributes to the pollution in the Baltic Sea; • Strengthen the local capacity for implementing EU water legislation; • Create an innovative system of river basin management appropriate for Latvian conditions and which enables co-operation on the local, regional and national levels (the Ziemelsuseja, the Daugava and the Baltic Sea basin); • Devise a scheme which ensures extensive public participation in the design and development of the river basin management plan and allows public groups to consider themselves as the “masters of the plan”; • Create sets of indicators and procedures for monitoring river basin quality and development, including a set of indicators to be monitored by the public; and • Demonstrate, by pilot projects, alternative possibilities to reconstruct wastewater and drinking water systems for small size (up to 2,000 inhabitants) local communities.


The project achieved its main objectives. 1. Stakeholder groups were extensively involved in the design of the river basin management process. One hundred and twenty people took part in the public hearing during the EU Water day activities. Eighteen local meetings were held in the municipalities in the reported period with 513 participants. In total, 633 people were involved in the public participation and monitoring activities, representing about 10% of the total population. These included representatives from seven target groups: local intelligence (teachers, librarians), the deputies of the local municipal council, school youngsters, municipal specialists and public services specialists, employees of the state environment board, and local entrepreneurs. Two non-profitable organisations were established: • ‘’Suseja’’, which will act in the future as the public organisation. • The municipal enterprise LtD ‘’Vide 2001’’, whose role in the future is not clear yet. (It has been established as a possible manager of the water sector in the project territory, but the Latvian legislation in this field is still in the process. Therefore ways to transfer the property in water sector and the function of water management to the organisation are still unclear). 2. The knowledge and skills of local decision makers, specialists/technical operators and managers have been improved via different training courses, seminars and experience exchange visits. 3. Demonstration of pilot projects: wastewater treatment systems in eight villages and the drinking water quality in seven municipalities were improved. New eco-engineering principles were tested: a two-level biological pond and wetland system was created; a new type WWT was used – the gravel filter planted with reeds and with the installation of energy efficient pumps; new wetlands were included in some WWT territories, which ensured additional treatment of waste waters. Sampling results for drinking water and wastewater demonstrate that for all iron removal plants and wastewater treatment plants, the drinking water and wastewater were in compliance with the requirements set by the competent authorities. The improvements in pilot sites ensured that 16% of the population in the Ziemelsuseja river basin territory is served with drinking water. The quality of drinking water was improved in the following parameters: turbidity, amount of ammonium and concentration of iron. These parameters did not meet the standards of water quality before the project implementation. By installing iron removal equipment, the typical high iron content was reduced to 0,2 mg/l in accordance to the EU-Drinking Water Directive. Wastewater management was improved in eight municipalities, thereby reducing the pollution load for Ziemelsuseja river basin territory and complying with the requirements set by the national authorities. The total population in the villages where wastewater treatment facilities were reconstructed amounts to 2604 inhabitants, the users of the system to 1507 inhabitants or 58% (1701 use centralised water supply). The amount of wastewater has been reduced in the territory by 233.2 m3 in year 2002 and by 172.5 m3 in 2004 (due to the water saving measures and a decrease in population). The new systems further resulted in energy and material saving. New water saving meters were installed in 32 households in Birži in Likumi. 4. Water management plans for each municipality involved and the comprehensive Ziemelsuseja River basin management plan were prepared. Extensive involvement of stakeholder groups and the public in the design process of plans were reached and the role and awareness of society in the river basin management process was increased. 5. Dissemination of the project results at the national level was done via different seminars and the conferences in Latvia and in Europe. The recommendations for The National Daugava River Basin Management Plan based on findings from Ziemelsuseja plan were prepared and were of good quality. As the number of small local municipalities in Latvia exceeds 300, it is important for them to demonstrate that this is a feasible solution for water-sector problems. The project demonstrated a cost-effective solution.


Environmental issues addressed:


Water - River basin management
Water - Water resources protection
Information - Governance - Public and Stakeholders participation


hydrographic basin‚  drinking water‚  water resources management

Target EU Legislation

  • Water
  • Directive 75/440 - Quality required of surface water intended for the abstraction of drinking wat ...
  • Directive 80/68 - Protection of groundwater against pollution caused by certain dangerous substan ...
  • Directive 80/778 - Quality of water intended for human consumption (15.07.1980)
  • Directive 91/271 - Urban waste water treatment (21.05.1991)

Natura 2000 sites

Not applicable



Coordinator Jekabpils Region Council
Type of organisation Regional authority
Description Jekabpils Region Council is a public authority overseeing the Jekabpils region, which lies on both the banks of the Daugava in the southeast part of Latvia between Vidzeme and Latgale.
Partners Sala Municipality Council, Latvia “Vide 2001” Ltd., Latvia Zasa Municipality Counci, Latvia Selpils Municipality Council, Latvia Rubene Municipality Council, Latvia Dunava Municipality Council, Latvia Asare Municipality Council, Latvia Leimani Municipality Council, Latvia Dignaja Municipality Council, Latvia Kalna Municipality Council, Latvia The Regional Environmental Centre for Central and Eastern Europe Representative Office in Latvia


Project reference LIFE02 ENV/LV/000481
Duration 01-NOV-2002 to 01-NOV -2005
Total budget 1,042,825.00 €
EU contribution 508,412.00 €
Project location Associated Latvia (LV)(Latvia Latvija)


Read more:

Project web site Website of the project
Publication: Layman report Layman report


Project description   Environmental issues   Beneficiaries   Administrative data   Read more   Print   PDF version