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Polish cities and water management - "Water City Index 2021" report

22 of March '22

In which cities in Poland is water management at a high level, and in which cities should major changes be undertaken? We can read about all this in the "Water City Index 2021" report.

recognizing the problem

Water still remains the most important factor shaping cities. Marginalizing its value in everyday life can lead to an endless spiral of problems - today observed not only in cities such as Cape Town or Chennai, but also in Skierniewice, where a water shortage crisis emerged in 2019. All this brings us back to the question - how should we change water management in Poland?

Urban water policy is not just about preventing water crises, but should consist of such measures that will allow us to use this resource productively," Professor Jerzy Hausner points out.

"Water City Index 2021" is a report compiled by the Foundation for Economy and Public Administration, Open Eyes Economy Summit, Cracow University of Economics and Arcadis. The scientific editing of the document was done by Dr. Michal Kudłacz and Krzysztof Kutek. The report includes a ranking of water resource efficiency in Polish cities - from Metropolises to small centers.

najważniejsze kryteria w indeksie

The most important criteria in the index

© Open Eyes Economy Summit

The document allows us to take a broader look at the issue of water management, also indicating where we should look for solutions in better management of this absolute priority chemical.

report methodology

The criteria in the "Water City Index" report are divided into four areas: "Life," "Threat," "Economy and Business," and "Culture and Residents." Water management is much more than access to water on tap. Each of the four areas was assigned an appropriate weight in relation to its priority in terms of city management.

In the "Life" area, the most important indicators were the price and consumption of water in the city, the price and production of wastewater, the density of the city's water supply and sewage system, and the expenses realized by cities for wastewater management and water conservation.

obszar dotyczący życia codziennego

everyday life area

© Open Eyes Economy Summit

The "Hazard" area looked at flood risk, the length of dikes in relation to the area of the city's flood risk area, the number of water supply failures per total network length, or the percentage of biologically active land in the city area.

obszar dotyczący zagrożeń związanych z wodą

water risk area

© Open Eyes Economy Summit

In the "Economy and Business" area, the most important indicators were based on water consumption by industry, the number of water transport companies, or the number of watercourse crossings in relation to the length of watercourses in the city.

obszar dotyczący biznesu

business area

© Open Eyes Economy Summit

The final area onCulture and Residentslooked at the length of the city's shoreline, the percentage of surface water, parks, green spaces and neighborhood green spaces, or city spending on green space maintenance.

obszar dotyczący kultury i mieszkańców

area on culture and residents

© Open Eyes Economy Summit

where's the best?

The report prepared three rankings of cities by metropolises, cities with county rights and cities for medium-sized cities. The metropolises included the eight largest cities. The ranking of county cities groups fifty-eight cities. The final ranking includes one hundred and fifty-two mid-sized cities.

The leader among the metropolises turned out to be Gdansk, a coastal city that was the first to perform a simulation loading the city's surfaces with driving rain, organized small retention facilities, and began investments in natural rainwater treatment. Gdansk also began organizing the Gdansk Climate Change Forum.

Second place went to Krakow which did very well despite not taking first place in any of the four areas. Primarily due to its openness to innovation and flexibility in using modern solutions for water management.

ranking metropolii

ranking of metropolises

© Open Eyes Economy Summit

The problems of cities with county rights, the report's authors point out, are quite different from those of metropolises. The biggest problems will be in the Silesia region, which will face water problems due to mining and mine closures.

In first place, despite the problems mentioned, was the city of Gliwice - the city has implemented a number of important projects like the use of rainwater, as well as the restoration of the Gliwice Canal to its proper status - which has directly improved investment and tourist attractiveness.

On the good side - examples of good practices in water management.

The authors of the report decided to cite three examples of cities that have introduced exemplary solutions in the field of urban water policy. Each of the examples involved a city with a different population and population density.

The first city is Birmingham, a metropolis of almost one and a half million people, which decided to create a program called the "Birmingham Resilence Project" - its main goal was to diversify water supplies, thus securing water sources. Birmingham also created the Aquator simulation model - allowing the creation of simulation models using water.

The second city is Utrecht. A city of nearly three hundred and sixty thousand residents. In 1973, the city moat was filled in part of the city over which a road was opened. In 1999, the Utrecht city council decided to restore the city moat. This is a unique example of renaturalization.

proces renaturyzacji w Utrechcie

The renaturalization process in Utrecht

© Open Eyes Economy Summit

Utrecht is also a unique place because of its developed planning system in the context of ecosystem management. The city has created a Green Architecture Plan for 2017-2030 and a separate tree policy with recommendations and plans for expanding parks, tree rows, and water channels. Utrecht University has also introduced an additional course of study, Water Science and Management. The cooperation of the scientific and research sector with the local government and non-governmental sector is an exemplary example of improving the quality of public services.

The last city cited is Pori. A city of nearly eighty-four thousand inhabitants. Pori and its immediate surroundings are more dispersed and less populated areas. The arrangement of wastewater management of sparsely populated areas is one of the elements of the city's strategy for proper nutrient recovery management. That's why the city's environmental protection office inspects residents on the proper operation and cleaning of individual systems, the systematic removal of sludge to the treatment plant.

The second interesting solution is the Finnish program for the development of National Urban Parks, which must include natural areas, preserving natural areas that are important for the preservation of urban biodiversity. Cleaning up wastewater management of sparsely populated areas is one element of the city's strategy for proper nutrient recovery management. That's why the city's environmental protection office is inspecting residents on the proper operation and cleaning of individual systems, the systematic removal of sludge to the treatment plant. The Pori National City Park is divided into three parts: the islet area, the city center, and the Pori forest and sports center. Each area has a specific task and important qualities for local residents. So there is both an old agricultural landscape, a post-industrial area, but also a region for cultural and recreational use along the Kokemäenjoki River.

in search of better solutions

Problems with proper water management in Poland are increasingly noticeable. Local government officials and residents increasingly see that creating efficient urban policies cannot end with the planning process. The report points to a number of solutions whose implementation is in our interest. Let's hope that in the next installment of the index we will see positive improvements in the context of taking care of blue-green infrastructure.

The report is available on the Open Eyes Economy Summit website.

Najważniejsze czynniki kształtujące wodną politykę miejską

key factors shaping urban water policy

© Open Eyes Economy Summit

compiled by Wiktor Bochenek

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