Water resources management
Using water resources
Although Finland is blessed with plentiful reserves of fresh water, these valuable resources must still be managed and used with care.
Surface water and groundwater reserves must all be managed to ensure they can be exploited safely and economically, while preserving their natural and recreational values. Settlements, agriculture and industry are all attracted to waterside locations, and the consequent multiple use of water resources can put them at risk. Wastewater may pollute watercourses and lead to eutrophication, for instance, while hazardous substances and the extraction of sand or gravel can endanger groundwater reserves. Water may conversely itself represent a threat to human activities, however, since homes, farms and other waterside land uses can all be vulnerable to flooding.
Exploitation often subject to permits
The exploitation of water resources is subject to official permission wherever this may lead to damage to the environment or people’s property. Anyone intending to use water resources should first contact the regional environment centre to find out whether the planned activity is subject to permits obtainable from the environmental permit authorities. The usage of water resources is regulated in detail by Finland’s water legislation.
Responsibility for the use and management of water resources has increasingly been transferred to regional environment centers as the scale of such operations has generally declined, with the emphasis shifting more towards restoration measures.
The environmental administration nevertheless continues to provide expert help, advice, training and information in order to promote sustainability in the use of water resources. Other government authorities are responsible for promoting hydropower, fisheries, water transportation and log-floating activities as such.