Water Quality in Estonia
While the water quality in Estonia is good when it comes to tap and bottled water, the quality of the country’s groundwater faces threats from pollutants.

Here are some key facts about the water quality in Estonia:

According to a 2014 study, researchers found that the average Estonian consumed 45 liters of bottled water each year.

Astrid Saava, an emeritus professor at the University of Tartu Department of Public Health, said that in Estonia, bottled water and tap water are fairly similar in respect to their quality.

“There is no significant difference between bottled drinking water and tap water in Estonia,” Saava said. “Both originate from underground water pumped through artesian wells. It’s just that the bottled water costs 500 to 1,000 times more.”

For this reason, Savaa added, it is often more cost-effective to forgo purchasing bottled water.

A slight taste difference between tap and bottled water might be observed in Tallinn, where tap water is sourced from Lake Ülemiste. Some have noted that water originating from the source may taste “inferior” to that of underground water in the region, according to the article.

Despite tap and bottled water being similar in quality in Estonia, for those living in the region it is recommended that they purchase bottled water if they think their countryside source may be polluted.

According to a study conducted by Tallinn University of Technology and the National Institute of Chemical Physics and Biophysics, surface waters are often subject to pollution. The study focused on drained peat areas, or swathes of organic wetlands, where there are significant stores of nitrogen.

In Estonia, eutrophication, or the presence of abnormally high concentrations of nutrients from watersheds, is one of the “most important problems for surface waters” in the region, according to the study.

Researchers found that past evaluations underestimated the impact of soil amelioration (supplements added to improve soil quality) on the intensive pollution of surface water. Previous evaluations attributed pollution and eutrophication to fertilizers and livestock in the area. According to the study, there is little evidence to back this theory.

In Estonia, the management of freshwater sources and their protection falls under the umbrella of the Ministry of the Environment, which coordinates the Decision-Making Environmental protection.

The country’s water department specifically overseas the condition and sustainable exploitation of the groundwater and other bodies of water in the region. Estonia’s water policy follows that of the European Union.

Estonia in particular enforces several legal provisions that support sustainable development, according to a release from the United Nations. Such policies focus on aspects such as the quality of the water in the river basins.

The water quality in Estonia near inland water bodies and coastal sea improved over the past ten years, according to the National Environmental Monitoring Programme.

Despite these improvements, rivers, like several that flow into the Gulf of Finland, are in need of improvement with respect to water quality.

Leah Potter

Photo: Flickr