By: L. K. F., MMC
According to the forecasts of the authorities, Istria and the Karst are approaching the point when the daily water supply will have to be stopped. Environment Minister Uroš Brežan visited the area today and discussed possible future water sources with representatives of local communities.
Rižanski vodovod Koper Ltd is preparing for the introduction of interruptions in drinking water supply for a few hours. For now, they pump groundwater and buy water from their neighbours, from Karst and from Istria, where the water balance is increasingly critical. Rižanski vodovod cannot predict when the taps will be dry for a few hours. “When the equation will not work out, and we are getting closer to this daily, if not almost hourly, then there will be no return,” director Martin Pregelj reported for Radio Slovenija. By respecting the measures and prohibitions, the reductions can be postponed for a day or so. But the plan is ready, said Sara Milenkovski, head of the health control service. “There will be water on tap every day. To begin with, we will limit it to only a few hours a day, and depending on the quantities and calculations, we will extend these interruptions,” she said. Users will also be informed shortly with a leaflet on how to act during this time. After the break, the water will no longer be safe to drink and will need to be boiled. “We will go out of the comfort zone that we are used to today. Today we open the tap, the water flows in and we drink it without any hesitation, we take care of the sick, babies, all risk groups. Then it will not be possible,” warned Sara Milenkovski. Users such as kindergartens, nursing homes and others who prepare food for a large number of people will be specially notified to think about it and prepare in advance. The water supply system is branched, it will be closed for the first time since 1987. “It can happen that someone will have water, but the neighbour a little higher up will not. It depends on where we will close and how the water supply is branched,” explained the head of the health control service. After the interruption, they also expect more damage to the pipes due to hydrological shocks.
Minister Brežan in Vizjak’s footsteps?
Today, the authorities from the Karst and Istria spoke with the Minister of Environment and Space, Uroš Brežan, about the current situation and multi-year efforts to obtain a new stable water source for Slovenian Istria. On his way to the talks in Brkine, the minister saw the confluence of the Suhorica and Padež streams. Two years ago, the Ministry of Environment and Spatial Affairs decided that the arrangement of the reservoir lake at this location would be the most appropriate solution to the problems of supplying Istria and the Karst with drinking water.
Minister Vizjak was attacked because of Suhorca and Padež, but now they are licking their wounds
Let us remind you that at that time the Minister of the Environment, Andrej Vizjak, who nevertheless initiated the procedures for the adoption of the state plan for the reservoirs of Suhorac and Padež in Brkine, was “attacked” by the central media (probably because he is SDS), saying that this was a completely wrong solution. Local, Karst-Brkine municipalities also spoke out against the reservoirs. Even before that, the second plan was in full swing – the connection of the water systems of the Karst and Istria, which would be able to supply Slovenian Istria with excess water from the Karst, while renewing the water supply network in the Karst, which is outdated in some places.
But both national and local politicians (with the exception of the municipality of Koper, i.e., its mayor at the time, Boris Popović) did not have enough strong will and decisive steps, perhaps also the ability, but above all the political will, to implement the plan, which is otherwise heavily supported by EU money (they were led by left-wing local politicians). However, for this much-needed project, the state was not able to adopt a national spatial plan in time (when they had time to draw EU money), which could regulate both land easements and other procedures (consent, environmental impact assessments, etc.). A lot of EU money for various projects went to waste, and the plans are still sitting in drawers. The drinking water supply of Karst and Istria thus fell apart.
The municipalities of Karst-Brkine and the civil initiative stopped the plan to supply the coast and the Karst with drinking water
In Matavun, the minister met with the representative of the civil initiative Save Brkine, Mario Benkoč, and the director of Škocjanska Cave Park, Stojan Ščuka. The civil initiative opposes the damming of the Suhorca and Padež streams. The park fears that this would reduce the flow of water through the caves. In Kozina, Brežan met with the mayors of the municipalities of Komen, Sežana, Divača, Hrpelje-Kozina, and Miren-Kostanjevica, as well as the director of the Karst water supply. Several municipal councils in the mentioned places adopted resolutions against the damming of Suhorica and Padež. The representative of the civil initiative Save Brkine Mario Benkoč said that they presented the minister with the reasons why they believe that the Suhorca and Padež reservoirs are not suitable for damming and that this is not a solution to the water supply problems for the entire region. As a solution, they proposed the connection of all water supply lines, which would not only be a solution for Slovenian Istria, but also for the Karst and the hinterland, and thus for the entire Inner-Littoral region. Brežan could not yet answer whether, due to concerns and problems, (Vizjak’s) project would finally be buried after today’s visited, which would have ensured a sufficiently large supply of drinking water for Slovenian Istria and Brkine by damming Suhorca and Padež.
“I think that we must first get an answer to what these procedures mean from the point of view of natural heritage and water. This will be the crucial moment when we will have to decide what and how to proceed with these procedures. In any case, I think it makes sense to explore other options now.” Until then, the process of preparing the national spatial plan for the reservoir of Suhorca continues.
In Koper, meanwhile, the mayors of Piran, Izola, Koper, and Ankaran, as well as the director of the Rižinski vodovod, will receive the minister. In Slovenian Istria, there are strict restrictions on the use of drinking water these days. Negotiations on an additional resource have been going on for more than 30 years.