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Georgia kicks off the planning process for Enguri and Rioni river basins

Country: Georgia
Component: Water resources

On February 14, 2023 the Kick-off workshop for the development of the River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) for the Enguri and Rioni river basins in Georgia was held at “Best Western Hotel” in Kutaisi.

 The aim of the meeting was to present the approach and timeline for the development of RBMPs, introduce the Georgian team of experts involved in the development, and initiate the dialogue with  local stakeholders.

The meeting was attended by around 40 representatives of the beneficiary organisations, regional administrations, local authorities, NGOs, local subcontractor, water sector experts, as well as the “EU4Environment: Water and Data” programme.

Opening remarks were made by Maia Javakhishvili, Deputy Head of Environment and Climate Change Department, Ministry of Environmental Protection of Georgia and representatives of the “EU4Environment: Water and Data” programme.

As an introduction to the meeting, the history and status of development of RBMPs in Georgia was presented by Mariam Makarova, Head of Water Division, MEPA Department of Environment and Climate Change.

The local contractor team for development for the RBMPs, REC Caucasus, and the programme's representatives presented the timeline and methodology of the RBMP development. The French expert from International Office for Water shared experiences from the EU member states. The work to develop the RBMP chapters started in December 2022, the RBMP is expected to be finalised by June 2024.

Georgian experts responsible for the development of the RBMP chapters presented their approach and methodologies, including the delineation of water bodies, basin characterisation, identification of significant pressures and analysis of their impacts. The participants to the workshop provided their feedbacks.

The approach for communication and stakeholder engagement in both basins was also presented by the expert of the local contractor. Two plenary consultation meetings (multi stakeholder meetings) are foreseen at different development stages for both plans.

The last session of the workshop was dedicated to identification of data and information, to the identification of on-going projects and initiatives in the basin, as well as to a preliminary identification of the main challenges in the basins, according to local stakeholders. The identified issues ranged from site-specific pressures and issues to problems general for the overall basin, as well as institutional and global issues, requiring intervention at national level.

Groundwater audit on June 12th-17th in Georgia

Country: Georgia
Component: Water resources, Environmental Data

From June 12 to June 17th, in the scope of the EU4Environment Water & Data programme, a team of Georgian scientists supervised by experts from the Environment Agency Austria gathered in Tbilisi to realise a comprehensive groundwater assessment training and a groundwater sampling audit.

The groundwater audit aimed to assess the respect of the ISO (International Organization for Standardization) standards and the EU Water Framework and Groundwater Directives to monitor groundwater.

On June 12th and 13th, the experts took part in an on-site sampling training in a small municipality close to Tbilisi. On the following days they had a training on groundwater bodies status assessment methodology and a workshop on groundwater body delineation. The water body is a coherent sub-unit in the river basin to which the environmental objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive must apply.

The EU framework for groundwater monitoring

The rules for assessing the good status of groundwater are slightly different from those for surface water (lakes, rivers, reservoirs). Good chemical and quantitative status is the objective set by the EU Water Framework Directive. The EU Groundwater directive sets EU-wide groundwater quality standards for a small number of pollutants and requires Member States to set threshold values for substances of national and river basin concern. 

The soundness of policy decisions is directly related to the reliability of the data gathered by monitoring programmes. And monitoring reliability in turn is predominantly linked to scientific and technological progress, as well as to the careful use of proper equipment, methods and techniques by the staff responsible for the water sampling and laboratory analytics.

Groundwater: a hidden resource not to be forgotten

Groundwater is water that is present under the surface of the Earth. Due to various human activities, it can be polluted, for example by chemicals, wastewater, and other substances that seep into the ground. Groundwater is difficult to clean, and many people rely on it as their primary (drinking) water source.

Since groundwater renews and moves slowly through the subsurface, the impact of anthropogenic activities may last for a long time. Groundwater is often linked to wetlands and surface water and feeds rivers, especially in low flow and dry periods.  Hence, deterioration of groundwater quality and/or reduction of groundwater resources may directly affect related terrestrial and surface water ecosystems.

Groundwater is a “hidden resource” for which pollution prevention, monitoring and restoration are more difficult than for surface waters, due to its inaccessibility.


Credit pictures: Andreas Scheidleder, Environment Agency Austria for EU4Environment Water and Data

EU supports Georgia's Water Sector Reforms through Policy Dialogue

Country: Georgia
Component: Water resources

On 6-7 December 2022, Georgia hosted the 9th meeting of the National Policy Dialogue on Water followed by a technical workshop on Nature-based solutions in water sector.  Chaired by the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture and organised with the support of the European Union within the frame of the new EU4Environment Water Resources and Environmental Data Programme, the National Policy Dialogue meeting aims to identify priorities for water management and the environment, assess progress with recent policy reforms in the water and environment sectors and to brief participants on the latest developments with ongoing national and international water projects in Georgia.

The country is undertaking a major reform of its water sector to comply with the European Union Water Framework Directive (WFD) requirements, as set forth in its Association Agreement with the European Union. In this regard, the Draft Law on Water Resources developed by Georgia with EU support is a key element to pursue reforms in the water sector and ensure sustainable and qualitative water resources for all.

Sustainable management of precious water resources will play a key role in the continued socio-economic development of Georgia. Georgia relies on its water resources not only for domestic, agricultural and industrial use, but also for the vast majority of its power generation. Tensions between these competing uses have emerged. Water is a truly cross-sectoral issue touching all areas of the economy and the lives of citizens. Although water is abundant in Georgia, its quality varies widely. Over a third of wastewater discharged into rivers, lakes and aquifers is insufficiently treated.

Ms Nino Tandilashvili, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture of Georgia said: “The Government of Georgia has taken important steps to get closer to the EU Water Resources Management Policy. We have developed a law to regulate water resources management, which has already been submitted to the Parliament of Georgia for consideration. The law aims to introduce river basin management system and ensure sustainable use of water resources in our country. Meanwhile, we started enhancing capacities of the National Environmental Agency for conducting research for the quantitative and qualitative indicators of water resources in the entire territory of Georgia in compliance with the internationally recognized standards adopted by EU countries. Moreover, we have developed a national program with the support of the European Union, which helps us to ensure the monitoring of quantitative and qualitative indicators of water resources across the country. The National Environmental Agency cooperates with the environmental sector specialists, the financing is annually increasing, thus enabling the state for the effective implementation and enforcement of Water Law. Our goal is to ensure the sustainable use of water resources in the face of climate change, encourage resource-saving and energy efficiency technologies, reduce water pollution in rivers and bring water quality closer to EU standards.”

Mr Alexander Darras, EU Delegation to Georgia said “Water is a key resource of Georgia, contributing to the beauty of the country and the equilibrium of its biodiversity. For these reasons, EU is providing extensive support to the water sector in Georgia. We strongly encourage Georgia to continue the legislative, institutional and governance reforms required to fully operationalise River Basin Management and to adopt as soon as possible the new Law on Water Resources which was prepared with EU assistance.”

The meeting will be attended by representatives from the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture, Ministry of Regional Development and Infrastructures, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Displaced Persons, Labour and Health, Ministry of Economy, Regional Administrations and Universities, Institutes and NGOs. Representatives of the EU Delegation to Georgia and international organisations and donors working in the Georgian water sector will also be present.

Speaking on behalf of the Programme’s implementing partners, Mr Alexander Zinke, Environment Agency Austria said: “Like other countries of the European Union’s Eastern Partnership, Georgia faces challenges with water pollution and exploitation of water resources that are in need of better protection and sustainable use, also at transboundary level. In light of Georgia’s efforts to approach EU standards, this EU programme continues strengthening the country’s capacities in river basin planning, monitoring and sustainable water use, as well as in collecting and publishing further data on land use, waste and air pollution. Overall, the adoption of the Water Law is urgently needed to allow the yet blocked progress towards EU compliance.

Workshop on ecological monitoring held in Georgia to discuss the establishment of nutrient concentrations

Country: Georgia
Component: Water resources, Environmental Data

On May, 8th 2023, a workshop on ecological monitoring centered around « Establishing nutrient concentrations to support good ecological status & assessing the ecological potential in heavily modified water bodies according to the Water Framework Directive » was held in Batumi, Georgia.

The workshop was attended by 13 Georgian Biologists and Chemists from the Fisheries, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity Department, Batumi and from the Atmospheric Air, Water and Soil Laboratory, Tbilisi. All of them are involved in the performance of the harmonization of the surveillance monitoring of the Georgian coastal and transitional waters with the EU Water Framework Directive. The workshop featured opening and closing remarks by Ms Marina Mgeladze, Head of Fisheries, Aquaculture and Water Biodiversity Department of the National Environment Agency of Georgia.

The one-day workshop included sessions on the harmonization of nutrient thresholds with biological quality elements thresholds, on the assessment of the ecological potential in coastal heavily modified water bodies (HMWBs), and a discussion on coastal and transitional water monitoring results obtained during the 2022 survey. This last discussion set the groundwork for a transitional water monitoring survey which is taking place this week.

During the previous EUWI+ project, the coastal strip from Sarpi (Border to Turkey) to Kobuleti (two surveys, including also Chorokhi estuary) was monitored. Now, under the EU4Environment Water and Data programme, experts are monitoring the remaining part of the coastal trip, from Kobuleti to Anaklia, including transitional waters of the Supsa, Rioni and Enguri Rivers, as well as the Paliastomi lake. These surveys have several purposes, first to collect data in particular water bodies for the setup of draft thresholds, second to apply multiparametric indices suitable for the Black Sea, and third to assess the ecological status of investigated coastal and transitional water bodies.

During the workshop hold in Batumi on the 8th of May, two topics have been covered.

  • The first one was about the problem how to harmonize nutrient thresholds with the status of biological quality elements (especially with Phytoplankton). The Joint Research Center Ecostat approach on this problem was explained and the Nutrient toolkit presented. Different Toolkit linear and categorical models were presented. A copy of the Toolkit was handed over to the workshop participants to perform the same calculations based on existing data for the coastal zone in Georgia.
  • The second topic was about the ecological potential which has to be assessed in artificial (AWB) and heavily modified water bodies (HMWB) instead of the ecological status. During this discussion, the difference between natural and artificial and heavily modified water bodies was considered, the stepwise approach for the designation of artificial and heavily modified water bodies was shown and some typical changes of the hydromorphological quality elements due to physical alterations in the coastal zone demonstrated. Further the differences between the ecological status and the ecological potential was discussed as well as the problem of the Maximum Ecological Potential (MEP) assessment. Based on the example of a harbour, as an identified HMWB, the MEP assessment was demonstrated with two methods (HMWB restoration measures method and “closest comparable” surface type method).

At the end of the workshop, some minor identified gaps from the first Kobuleti – Anaklia survey have been discussed as well as the draft results of the survey which indicate a relatively good status of the investigated water bodies. The final assessment of the ecological status will be calculated after data evaluation of the second coastal and transitional water survey  (currently in progress).

Georgia: online kick-off for EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data

Country: Georgia
Component: Water resources, Environmental Data

The official launching of the EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data  programme in Georgia was held in an online format on 7 March 2022. The programme will further support Georgia in the preservation of its natural resources in line with the European Green Deal and a post-COVID-19 green recovery. It aims to improve the health and wellbeing of Georgian citizens, as well as the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The programme is part of the Team Europe Initiative on Water and Zero Pollution, which aims at moving towards a toxic-free environment for all citizens.

EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data reinforces the on-going EU4Environment Action in Georgia. It aims to support existing and new policies and their implementation at local levels through decentralized management of water resources, and to improve access to reliable data and information on water resources, but also on air quality, land use and waste to decision-makers and Georgian citizens. To this end, EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data builds upon the success of previous operational projects like the European Water Initiative Plus (EUWI+) and the Shared Environmental Information System Phase II (ENIS SEIS II East). 

The EUWI+ project has helped Georgia implement its existing Association Agreement with the EU and gradually adopt EU water management practices. River Basin Management Plans for Alazani-Iori and Khrami-Debeda river basins and extension of the Chorokhi-Ajaristskali basin management plan to the Black Sea coastal issues, all three ready for Government adoption (covering together 24,000km2, 961,000 inhabitants). Its development involved 16 Georgian experts and 319 local participants took part in stakeholder consultations. To reinforce knowledge of water resources, monitoring sites for rivers and groundwater were upgraded, and field surveys covering more than 230 sites were held in the frame of the project. Additional work on water data integration, laws and regulations enforcement as well as financing mechanisms and public awareness raising was also undertaken during the project.

The ENI SEIS II East project supported implementation of the principles and practices of the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) to strengthen the production of environmental data and indicators in biodiversity, water, land, waste and air. The project developed the country’s institutional capacity in environmental assessment and accounting, and as an example introduced new tools for improving the accessibility to air quality monitoring data based on the EU Air Quality Directives and the Air Quality Index published by the European Environment Agency.

The European Commission and the implementing partners look forward to continuing and strengthening their engagement with Georgia under this new European Union support. Together they will strengthen the management of water resources and environmental data to benefit the environment and wellbeing of Georgian citizens.

Mr Alexandre Darras, Team Leader Connectivity, Energy, Environment and Climate change, European Delegation said “The European Union supports Georgia’s green transformation in line with the European Green Deal and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Building on previous EU projects and with a view to strengthening existing support, this programme focuses on water and environmental data. It will help ensure a clean and safe water supply for all Georgian citizens and tackle challenges of air pollution or waste management with better availability of policy-relevant data for decision-makers.”

Ms. Nino Tandilashvili, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Environmental Protection and Agriculture said “As part of its commitments under the Association Agreement, Georgia is aligning its national policies and strategies with the European Union. Georgia is undertaking reforms to ensure protection and sound distribution of water among different sectors of the economy: progress was achieved with the Draft Law on Water Resources Management and our water monitoring network has been significantly extended. This new programme will be instrumental for supporting environmental protection in Georgia.”

The EU-funded “EU4Environment – Water Resources and Environmental Data” Programme, launched in 2021, aims at supporting a more sustainable use of water resources and improving the use of sound environmental data ... Read more




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