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Key question

Is water in the Czech Republic being used sustainably with respect to availability of water sources in the future?

Key message

The trend of decreasing water abstraction and consumption has continued. As in the previous year, in 2012 there was also a reduction of the total water consumption a part of which is attributed to abstraction from surface waters. Groundwater abstraction has stagnated. As opposed to the year 2011, the most significant reduction was recorded in water abstraction for the energy sector (by 7.8%). The volume of invoiced water has declined for all groups of customers; overall, this difference amounted to 1.1% in comparison with the previous year. The total water consumption in households has declined (88.1 l/inhab./day) as well as the loss of water in water mains (19.3% in 2012, compared to 25% in 2000). In addition, the number of inhabitants connected to water supply networks has increased interannually.

Within the water abstraction structure, there was an interannual increase only in abstraction for agriculture (11.1%) as a result of inevitable request for irrigation water, and also in abstraction for the industry (5.0%), which, nevertheless, did not have an impact on any increase in the total abstraction. There is also an increase in the prices of water and sewer rates.

Overall assessment

Change since 1990

Change since 2000

Last year-to-year change

References to current conceptual and strategic documents and their targets

Economical use of water resources, in particular for the purposes of drinking water supply, along with achievement of good water condition, belong to priority themes of the conceptual and strategic documents on both the European and the national levels. In the Czech Republic, planning in the area of water is based on, inter alia, The Directive 2000/60/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council establishing a framework for Community action in the field of water policy (the Water Framework Directive). From the perspective of the above-mentioned topics, the River Basin Management Plans are important documents at the national level which are based on the Framework Directive. They are elaborated for eight catchment areas and they contain programmes of measures to gradually solve the most significant water management problems. Another important strategic document is the Plan of Major River Basin Districts of the Czech Republic, which also deals with securing a smooth supply of the population and other consumers with sanitary and high-quality water.

Also the Conception of the Agrarian Policy of the Czech Republic for the Period after EU Accession (2004–2013) and the Conception of Water Management Policy of the Ministry of Agriculture of the Czech Republic till 2015 aim at similar tasks. These Conceptions focus on creating the conditions for sustainable management of limited water wealth of the Czech Republic, which will allow harmonising the requirements for all forms of using water resources with the requirements for the protection of water and aquatic ecosystems whilst taking account of measures to reduce the harmful effects of water. The mid-term strategy of state policy concerning water supply and sewerage systems before 2015, the Development Plan for Water Supply and Sewerage Systems of the Czech Republic, was created within synthesis of information from the regional level. The Plan contains a concept for the solution of drinking water supply for the whole population, including specification of surface and groundwater sources of drinking water.

Indicator assessment – graphic part

Chart 1: Water abstraction by individual sectors, the Czech Republic [mil. m3]
Source: The Ministry of Agriculture

Water abstraction by individual sectors, the Czech Rep.

Water abstraction by users in excess of 6000 m3 per year or 500 m3 per month is kept on record – pursuant to Section 10 of Decree of the Ministry of Agriculture No 431/2001 Coll.

Chart 2: Water consumption by households, the Czech Republic [l per capita per day]
Source: The Czech Statistical Office

Water consumption by households, the Czech Rep.

Water consumption per capita per day indicates the amount of invoiced water per one inhabitant that is supplied with water from a public water supply system per one day.

Chart 3: The price of water – average water rate and average sewage rate, the Czech Republic [CZK per m3]
Source: The Czech Statistical Office

The price of water - average water rate and average sewage rate, the Czech Rep.

Up until 2003 (incl.), water and sewage rates are only indicated for main operators, since 2004 the figures have been calculated for the entire Czech Republic. Water and sewage rates are shown exclusive of VAT.

Chart 4: Water losses in distribution systems, the Czech Republic [%]
Source: The Czech Statistical Office

Water losses in distribution systems, the Czech Rep.


Chart 5: Water abstraction (for the last available year, see x axis data), an international comparison [m3 per capita]
Source: Eurostat

Figure 1: International comparison of water shortage expressed as using renewable water resources by means of WEI index [%]
Source: Eurostat

Indicator assessment – text part

The total abstraction of surface water and groundwater has been decreasing since the early 1980s. This trend manifested itself more significantly in the early 1990s; at first, it was associated mainly with changes in the structure of industrial and agricultural production as a result of restructuring the national economy, later with decreasing water demands of industrial technologies and with declining water consumption in households. After a hike in abstraction in 2002 and 2003 (a change in the range of reported data and, at the same time, the beginning of cooling water abstraction for the Temelin nuclear power station), the situation had stabilised and in the past three years, the total abstraction of surface water and groundwater has been declining again. In 2012, the total water abstraction amounted to 1,840.7 mil. m3, which represented a decrease by 2.7% compared to the previous year. Abstraction from surface sources accounted for 79.4% of the total volume of water abstracted.

The structure of abstraction from surface water and groundwater by user groups (CZ-NACE classification) has been stable since 2003. Of the total water abstraction, the greatest part is made in the energy sector (45.7%, 840.7 mil. m3 in 2012). In vast majority, this is abstraction of water for through-flow cooling of steam turbines, and therefore 99.8% of abstraction in the energy sector (839.2 mil. m3), are taken from surface water. Compared to last year, this abstraction decreased by 7.7%. Most of the cooling water abstracted is then returned to watercourses with a slightly altered quality (increased temperature, reduced oxygen content) and a part of the water is lost by evaporation. On the other hand, the biggest volume of abstraction from groundwater sources (312.4 mil. m3, 82.3% as opposed to 22.4% in case of surface water) is used for public water mains as a source for drinking water production because of higher quality of groundwater that does not require much processing. In 2012, 50.0% of drinking water was produced from groundwater sources in the Czech Republic. In the Czech Republic, one-third of all abstraction is carried out for the purposes of water collection, treatment and distribution in public water mains. Since 2000, this abstraction decreased by 20.8%, which is related to overall reduction in the quantity of water produced and to the decline in demand for drinking water caused by introduction of more efficient technologies and savings in households and in the industry.

In 2012, the industry was the third-largest consumer of water (i.e. surface water) (15.8% 290.4 mil. m3). Water abstraction for the industry sector accounted for 17.4% of abstraction from surface water sources and only 9.7% of abstraction from groundwater sources. Abstraction for the industry (including mining and quarrying) shows a long-term decline (since 2000 by 36.5%), however, within the 2011/2012 interannual comparison there was an increase in abstraction from both groundwater sources (by 5.0%) and surface sources (by 5.2%). This increase occurred in spite of the fact that the total industrial production showed an interannual decrease but for example in production of chemical substances and chemical preparations, which is a major consumer of water, the production increased interannually and was therefore reflected in increased abstraction. Not only introduction of new production technologies (based on savings or environmental protection) but also economic development in the sectors with the highest abstraction (food processing, chemical and paper industries) have an impact on water abstraction for the industry in general. On the other hand, water abstraction for agriculture has been steadily low (2.4% of the total abstraction in 2012); in the case of crop farming, it usually has enough rainwater and the interannual fluctuations depend on the temperature development and the amount of precipitation during the growing season. In the last interannual comparison, there has been an increase in water abstraction for agriculture by 11.1% (14.3% for surface water and 3.4% for groundwater).

The abstraction increase was partly influenced by 2012 spring precipitation which was below the long-term mean. The interannual increase may not correspond fully to the actual abstraction, which is caused by the fact that according to the respective legislation, only a part of abstracted water is charged but, for the performance of water balance, all abstracted water must be reported and this increase is thus partly a result of improved reporting discipline.

Water companies belong to entities that abstract most water in the Czech Republic. In 2012, a total of 623.5 mil. m3 of water were produced, of which 616.4 mil. m3 were intended for implementation and 480.7 mil. m3 was drinking water invoiced to households, industry, agriculture and other users. Since 2007, the amount of the invoiced drinking water has been decreasing continually (a decline by 9.6% between 2007 and 2012). Households, which accounted for 65.7% of drinking water abstraction (315.9 mil. m3) in 2012, have been decreasing their consumption since 2004. There was an interannual (2011/2012) decline in abstraction for all of the customers. Reduction of the quantity of water produced is also derived from the reduction of drinking water loss in distribution networks, which was 19.3% of the total volume of produced water intended for implementation in 2012 (in 2000 this was 25%). This means that 33.0 l of water were lost per each inhabitant in 2012 and water consumption per one inhabitant supplied from public water mains amounted to 174.0 (specific consumptive use of the water produced). The per capita water consumption reflects the trends in water abstraction. In households 88.1 were consumed in 2012, which is 81.9% of the value of the year 2000. Reducing water consumption in households is connected with a decrease in the volume of produced water; at the same time, the number of inhabitants supplied with drinking water from public water supply systems is growing; currently it is 9.8 mil. people (93.5% of the Czech Republic’s population). There is also a long-term influence of rising water and sewer rates, which have increased by another 6.1% compared to the year 2011, and of massive expansion of water-saving appliances. The increase in water and sewer rates is also influenced by oversized water infrastructure which was largely built in times when abstraction was much bigger and so with decreasing water consumption, depreciation on fixed assets of the water companies account for a growing part of the water price.

Access to water resources is highly dependent on geographical location and physical-geographical conditions in the single states or water basins. In an international comparison, the Czech Republic belongs to countries with a sufficient quantity of water resources relative to water consumption; only in the Morava catchment area, the volume of water abstraction is higher in relation to the supplies. The most vulnerable regions are located in Spain, Portugal, Italy, Cyprus, southern and eastern France, in the south of the United Kingdom (England, Wales), in Belgium and Estonia. The lack of water in these areas is caused by adverse natural conditions (climate, character of the river network, geological conditions, etc.) and as a result of anthropogenic interventions in the water regime. Uneconomical use of water and an increase in abstraction, especially for agricultural production, have a greater impact on the overall water balance in these regions rather than in countries with enough water resources. On the other hand, in states with a more favourable ratio of water needs to the volume of renewable water supplies (i.e. with the lowest WEI index), such as Sweden, Denmark, Finland, the Baltic states, Slovakia or Iceland, this condition is clearly influenced by the natural conditions (higher precipitation, river network density, water content of watercourses, area of still water).

Data sources

Czech Statistical Office
T. G. Masaryk Water Research Institute (a public research institution)
Ministry of Agriculture
Podniky povodí, state enterprises
European Environment Agency (EEA)
Eurostat, Statistical Office of the European Union

Links to additional information

European Environment Agency, international indicators (CSI 018)
Water Supply, Sewerage and Watercourses, The Czech Statistical Office tables
Report on the state of Water Management in the Czech Republic



List of indicators by themes