Govt to debate water restrictions in coastal region Thursday

Koper – Environment Minister Uroš Brežan met the mayors of coastal communities in Koper on Tuesday to discuss severe water shortages in the region. They agreed the mayors would put forward measures to save drinking water to prevent rationing. The measures will then be discussed by the government on Thursday.

Koper Mayor Aleš Bržan said suspending water supply to households, which is being considered by the water utility supplying the region, “is not necessarily the most appropriate measure because it would make water contaminated throughout the system and cause major damage to the pipeline system”.

He believes it is better to discuss “whether to close the water to some legal entities as well”. Earlier he suggested the state should take initiative being the owner of most hotels in the region and the port operator Luka Koper as the biggest local water consumer.

He also suggested that the army barracks could be emptied and the staff sent on leave until the situation improved.

The use of water from the distribution system has already been banned for beach showers, fountains in public places, irrigation of lawns, car washing, filling swimming pools, and hosing down pavement areas. Last week the restriction has been extended to irrigation of farmland.

By Wednesday the local communities and the Rižana water utility will draw up a list of business subjects and activities that would face temporary bans on the use of water.

“I’m confident that we will find appropriate solutions through both urgent and long-term measures,” Minister Brežan said.

The minister also discussed options to secure an additional water source for the region with local officials from the Kras and Brkini regions. He also gave an ear to a civil initiative opposing plans to dam the Suhorca and the Padež rivers over environmental concerns.

He said the spatial plan for the Suhorca dam was still open. “This spatial plan will continue, but we will also look for parallel solutions, that is connecting the Kras water pipelines with those on the coast and links to the water systems in the Postojna and Pivka areas,” he said.

Komen Mayor Erik Modic said the supply of water from the Kras to the Slovenian Istria could be expanded from 100 litres to 150 litres per second in a year by activating a borehole for which they obtained a building permit back in 1995 but this would cost EUR 600,000 to 700,000.

“The deal so far has been that the municipalities themselves invest in that, which means it would take two or three years. But if we can get the ministry’s support and secure European funding, we can do it in a few months,” Modic said, adding that transport facilities would also have to be boosted, which Brežan said could be done in a year or two at the cost of EUR 2-3 million.