Lithuania is a small European country located in the south of the Baltic States. Formerly a member of the Soviet Bloc, it has quickly modernized since the last Russian troops withdrew in 1993. The economy was restructured from communism to capitalism and has spent the past 25 years becoming a modern state in every sense. One of the keys to the rapid development of the country has been the water quality in Lithuania, which has been a focus of the government and society in the years since it began rebuilding.
Water quality in Lithuania is monitored by three distinct sectors of government. The Ministry of Health controls and legislates all indoor water, including that used for drinking and bathing. This is supplemented by the State Food and Veterinary Service, which specifically monitors and controls drinking water. The water supply, including groundwater resources and wastewater treatment, is legislated and focused upon by the Ministry of Environment.
This three-pronged approach to water governance has worked remarkably well over the course of Lithuania’s history. From 2003 to 2012, the number of cubic meters of water treated up to established sanitation norms doubled from 85 million cubic meters to 170 million cubic meters, while water treated either ineffectively or not at all has dropped from nearly 70 million cubic meters to less than five over the same period.
Though the standard of water quality in Lithuania is already high, the country has passed legislation to continue raising it. From 2016 to 2021, the Lithuanian government has committed to establishing systems for flood monitoring and management in four of their most important river basins. The government will also comply with the Baltic Sea Action Plan to keep the Baltic Sea environmentally sound by 2020 by reducing pollutants and conserving the biodiversity of the Lithuanian coast.
The commitment to water quality in Lithuania has contributed significantly to the country’s rapid economic maturation and looks to continue to do so. With a constant eye to the future, the three sectors of government responsible for keeping the water supply safe and viable have reduced disposed waste water and increased its recycling since 2012, and the economy has stayed strong, weathering storms of uncertainty throughout Europe. The Lithuanian government’s dedication to water quality is one to be both admired and emulated, as it has led to higher quality of life for the country’s people.
– Connor S. Keowen