Sebastian_Puraci_Three_Waters_LakeThe concept of Green Infrastructure incorporates social, economic, and environmental benefits: water clearly provides us with all three of these, and is essential to protect. From providing a habitat in its own right to supporting other habitats, from enabling human life to making industry possible, water is crucial for humans and our surrounding ecosystems. The EU’s Water Framework Directive aims to enable sustainable water policy, and Green Infrastructure can play an important role in that by creating structures that support a healthy water cycle so vitally needed water is available to ecosystems and humans alike.

We have recently worked on a series of recommendations for policy improvements on the implementation of the Water Framework and Nature Directives for more integrated Blue Green Infrastructure management; this can be accessed here. In relation to natural water retention measures in Central and Eastern European countries, specifically, we have created action plans for Bulgaria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Poland.

CEEweb is also a member of the EIP Water Action Group “NatureWAT – Nature-based technologies for innovation in water management”. For more information on what the Action Group does, please visit the Online Marketplace.

In the frame of the Michael Otto “Building BlueGreen infrastructure in Central- Eastern Europe: from pilot projects to regional action project”, we are restoring 3 wetlands across Central and Eastern Europe as well as assessing the improvement of ecosystem services in the course of ecological restoration.

Successful implementation of the  depends on its integration with other nature policies. CEEweb follows water-related EU policy developments and raises awareness regarding the possibilities to influence it. The below video portrays the 2013 Flood of the Century in Hungary submitted to 2013 Green-Go Short Film Contest.


Click on the titles to learn more about each case

Scheldt Estuary, Belgium – A natural answer to flooding

Source: Bird Life

Source: Bird Life

As a result of a catastrophic flooding in 1976, the Flemish government chose for a sustainable solution instead of building massive dams and artificial elements. To address the flooding and affiliated environmental challenges, 100.000 euro per hectare was invested for restoring estuaries and wetlands and constructing a system of small dykes. Such notable investment is valued to bring benefits of 740 million euro through providing services such as flood alleviation, water purification, soil loss control and an additional 150 million euro through the ecological and cultural services (tourism, recreation, protection of habitats, etc.)

Blue-Green Network Łódź

Source: e-czytelnia.abrys.pl

Source: e-czytelnia.abrys.pl

Location: Poland, Łódź

Achievement of the project:

  • A sustainable use of water resources and conservation of green elements in urban area with a multi-stakeholder cooperation.
  • A complete, innovative development plan of river valleys and water management in the city, having ecohydrology as its integral component.
  • Łódź becoming a Blue-Green City.

Works done:

  • Reconstruction of cascade reservoirs
  • A multi-Sequential System Sediment – Biofiltration
  • Rehabilitation of the river valley (restoration of the river meanders, restoration of wetlands)

Ecological, Economical and Social benefits: Improvements in hydraulic communication between the river and the valley, of the microclimate and the vegetation. Re-naturalization of the rivers, healthier populations, increased water filtration and water storage capacity, flood mitigation, noise regulation, health benefits, increased physical activity.

Function: Harmonize the functions of urban rivers with ecohydrologic ones, designed to restore the valley of the potential for self-regulation.

Background: As a result of rapid development of industry in the nineteenth century, most of the rivers have been channelized and integrated into the sewage system.

Sources of Funding: EU Project SWITCH, Grant of the City of Łódź Mayor , European Fund of Regional Development

Restaurant in a Wetland

Lake Martin

Photo Courtesy of Sinclairs Restaurant

Location: Lake Martin, Alabama, United States

Project Overview: Sinclairs is a waterside restaurant on a peninsula projecting into Lake Martin. Business growth required expanding and paving the parking areas, which were adjacent to the shoreline. Two bioretention areas were created in very limited space to capture the pavement runoff, filter it and slowly release it into the lake. The bioretention areas were constructed to also function as wetlands with a range of typical native wetland vegetation. The bioretention areas are highly visible to the restaurant’s clientele and therefore serve a public education function as well.

Design features: Bioretention facility and bioswale. The facility was also constructed to function as a wetland with native vegetation

Estimated Cost of Stormwater Project: $10,000-$50,000

Funding: Private investment

Constructing the bioretention areas was significantly more expensive than simply allowing sheet flow into the lake from the parking areas. On the other hand, preserving an existing stand of trees rather than paving the entire area lessened paving costs and the need for mitigation. On balance, costs were slightly reduced.

Savings: Slightly reduced costs (1-9% savings).

Job hours devoted to project: Planning and Design: 20 hours; Construction: 32 hours; Annual Maintenance: approx. 30 hours

Results: The highly visible location of the bioretention basins has attracted favorable public notice and has complemented and enhanced the shoreline location of the restaurant. It has also served as a model water quality management technique for subsequent developments on the lake and a tangible demonstration of the importance of maintaining water quality in the lake.

Contacts: Lawrence L. Bates, ASLA (architect), lbates@nullrusselllands.com

Link: http://www.asla.org/uploadedFiles/CMS/Advocacy/Federal_Government_Affairs/Stormwater_Case_Studies/Stormwater%20Case%20073%20Sinclairs%20Restaurant%20Renovation,%20Lake%20Martin,%20AL.pdf

Pomerania, Poland – Wetlands restoration providing multiple benefits

Source: Naturalists Club

Source: Naturalists Club

At Pomerania wetlands in the North of Poland, a wetland restoration project for removing invasive trees and old draining systems was initiated by various stakeholders (NGOs, regional forest authorities, regional nature conservation authorities and regional administration office, Agricultural Property Agency, Landscape Park and Ministry of Environment). The project was funded from various sources, by the EU’s LIFE Programme, Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, GEF Small Grants Programs and EkoFundusz Foundation. Next to field activities, the project also focused on raising awareness among 300 local people, holding a series of workshops and providing experience-exchange study trips to Estonia and Scotland. It also enabled research activities and monitoring of endemic, protected species and habitats. As a result of the rehabilitation of wetlands, conservation of species and genetic diversity was ensured, along with the increase in the quality of water, flood protection and reduced surface water runoff.

Diversification of local economy through investment in nature

Source: Danubeparks

Source: Danubeparks

Location: South Romania, Comana wetlands

Description: Ecological restoration of habitat has been carried out on 1,180 ha, between 2009 and 2011.

Actions carried out:

  • construction of a small dam to prevent the wetlands from drying out
  • construction of a fish scale to avoid aquatic habitat fragmentation
  • construction of ornithological observatories, visitors and information centers, information panels
  • setting up monitoring systems

Jobs created: 20 temporary jobs.

Economic and social benefits: Increased number of tourists (10,000 visitors per year), 500 educational excursions per year.

Environmental benefits: Increased number of protected bird species (at least by 5%), increased population sizes, better condition for fish, improved quality of habitats.

Background info: The Comana wetlands – Natura 2000 and Ramsar site – are a significant area for birds. Before 1990 the area has been subjected to drainage of land for agriculture, which has reduced wet areas by three fourths and has had a negative impact on biodiversity.

Sources of Funding: ERDF Sectorial Operational Programme for the Environment in Romania (65%) (Priority Axis 4 “Implementation of Adequate Management Systems for Nature Protection”), and match funding from the state budget (35%).

Restoration of Baltic raised bogs

Source: Eijkelkamp

Source: Eijkelkamp

Location: Poland, Pomenaria

Description: Conservation of Baltic raised bogs in Pomenaria.  The aim of the project was to halt the water loss, eliminate biodiversity threats, such as the extension of birch, pine and spurce.

Actions carried out:

  • removing invasive trees and old draining systems
  • blocking drainage systems
  • construction of ditches
  • extension of Natura 2000 network with new sites

Environmental and social benefits: 15 new Natura 2000 sites, 13 new protected areas, flood protection, reduced surface water run-off.

Background:The Baltic raised bogs have a very limited distribution next to the Baltic Sea. The project aimed to halt the process of drainage and subsequent water loss of peat bogs through the building of sluices and dams and through the filling of ditches.

Sources of Funding: EU LIFE Program, National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management, GEF Small Grants Programs, EkoFundusz Foundation, Regional Fund for Environment Protection and Water Management Gdansk.

Fish Passes at Hydro Power Dam

Source: Bulgarian Biodiversity Program

Source: Bulgarian Biodiversity Program

Location: Bulgaria

Function:  The fish passes will ensure the migration of the local fish populations –the Balkan trout as well as other mountain fish species living in the lower zone of the river

Funding source: Privately funded by the owner of the hydropower station; their cost was included in the cost of the dam.

Background Info: Bulgarian conservation NGOs proposed an amendment to the Act on Fisheries and Aquaculture which would require the construction of fish passes at every new dam on the Bulgarian rivers. The first attempt failed but the proposal was accepted by the National Union of Hunters and Fishermen and was finally included in Bulgarian legislation. Unfortunately there are no standards for effective fish passes which are often built and managed without taking species’ requirements into consideration. Most of the time the water in the basins flows very fast, there are no shelters for migrating fish and very often habitats dry for several months. Due to these reasons the existing fish passes are usually not able to ensure fish migration.


Blue and Green Infrastructure – Policy Recommendations for the Water Framework and Nature Directives

Natural Water Retention Measures – Bulgaria Action Plan

Natural Water Retention Measures – Hungary Action Plan

Natural Water Retention Measures – Czech Republic Action Plan

Natural Water Retention Measures – Slovakia Action Plan

Natural Water Retention Measures – Poland Action Plan

Report on Socio-Economic Benefits of Wetland Restoration in Central and Eastern Europe

Guiding Principles on Sustainable Hydropower

Natural Water Retention Measures Policy Document

Links between WFD and Nature Directives

WFD and Agriculture Linkages at the EU level

WFD, Floods and other EU Directives. WFD Implementation, Strategies and Policies

Monitoring Program of Natura 2000 Freshwater Habitats in Sweden

Implementation of the EU Nature Legislation in Estuaries and Coastal Zones

Water Framework Directive in Eastern Slovak Lowlands

Water Notes: Introduction and Overview of the Implementation of the Water Framework Directive

Green Infrastructure guide fo water management

Green Infrastructure and Flood Management

Rivers and lakes in European cities

A brighter future – with a little help from our nature

Green Infrastructure and Flood Management