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Key question

Is water in the Czech Republic being used in a sustainable way with respect the availability of water sources in the future?

Key message

The trend of decreasing water abstraction and consumption has been continuing. As in the previous year, the total water abstraction was decreasing in 2013, too. Abstraction from surface waters took a greater part in this decline while abstraction from groundwater participated in it to a smaller extent. In almost all of the evaluated categories, i.e. in the category of water mains for public use, energy, industry, and other users of surface water, there was a decline in the quantity of surface water abstraction compared to the year 2012; stagnation was recorded only in case of agriculture. The most significant reduction of water abstraction was recorded in the category of energy (interannually the total abstraction decreased by 17.0%). Compared to the previous year, there was a decline in the volume of produced water, drinking water intended for implementation and of water invoiced to households and other customers. The total water consumption in households has decreased (87.2 l/inhabitant/day) as well as the loss of water in water mains (17.9% in 2013, compared to 19.3% in 2012). In addition, the number of inhabitants connected to water supply networks has increased interannually.

The water prices continue growing.

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, especially 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, which are based on the Framework Directive, belong to important documents at the national level. 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. In the area of water management services, the Plan deals with, inter alia, 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, i.e. 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. The Development Plans for Water Supply and Sewerage Systems of the single regions in the Czech Republic are a basis for the use of the European Community’s funds and national financial sources for building and renewal of water infrastructure.

Indicator assessment – graphic part

Chart 1: Water abstraction by individual sectors, the Czech Republic [mil. m3]
Source: Ministry of Agriculture, Povodí, state enterprise, T. G. Masaryk Water Research Institute, Czech Statistical Office

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: 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: Czech Statistical Office

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

Until 2003 (including the year 2003), the water rates are provided for the main operators only. Since 2004, the water prices are calculated for the whole of the Czech Republic. The water prices are provided without VAT. In 2013, calculation of the sewage rate was made more precise as a result of including charged rainwater and also due to co-operation of the respondents. The resulting sewage rate per m3 is not fully comparable with the previous years, in spite of the fact that the interannual differences do not digress from the results of the previous years.

Chart 4: Water losses in distribution systems, the Czech Republic [%]
Source: 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 2013, the total water abstraction amounted to 1,649.8 mil. m3, which represented a decrease by 10.4% compared to the previous year. Compared to the year 2012, there was a decrease of both surface water (by 12.5%) and groundwater (by 2.2%) abstraction. Abstraction from surface sources accounted for 77.5% of the total volume of water abstracted.

The structure of abstraction from surface water and groundwater by user groups (CZ-NACE classification) has been more or less stable since 2003. Of the total water abstraction, the greatest part is made in the energy sector (43.2%, 713.0 mil. m3 in 2013). In vast majority, this is abstraction of water for through-flow cooling of steam turbines, and therefore 99.6% of abstraction in the energy sector (710.4 mil. m3) are taken from surface water. Compared to the previous year, this abstraction decreased by 17.1%, which contributed substantially to the decline in the total surface water abstraction, which has declined by 12.5% interannually, after previous years of stagnation. 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 not returned to the watercourse due to evaporation. Reduced abstraction in Mělník power station, which uses through-flow (not circular) cooling, has taken a great part in the decrease of water abstraction for energy.

On the other hand, the biggest volume of abstraction from groundwater sources (303.5 mil. m3, 81.8% as opposed to 24.6% 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 2013, 50.3% of drinking water was produced from groundwater sources in the Czech Republic. In the Czech Republic, 37.5% 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 23.5%, 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 2013, the industry sector was the third-largest consumer of water (i.e. surface water) (15.1%, 248.5 mil. m3). Water abstraction for the industry sector accounted for 16.8% of abstraction from surface water sources and only 9.2% of abstraction from groundwater sources. Abstraction for the industry (including mining and quarrying) shows a long-term decline (since 2000 by 45.7%). Within the 2012/2013 interannual comparison, there was a decrease of abstraction from both surface sources (by 9.2%) and groundwater sources (by 3.4%). 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 in the Czech Republic (2.7% of the total abstraction in 2013); 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 was an increase in water abstraction for agriculture by 1.9%. Warm and dry weather in April and July had influence on relatively high abstraction. Interannual fluctuations, however, do not necessarily have to correspond to real abstraction, which is connected with the fact that according to the law, only a part of abstracted water is subject to a charge but for the purposes of water balance, all the collected water must be reported and therefore the increase is partly a result of better reporting discipline.

Water companies belong to entities that abstract most water in the Czech Republic. In 2013, a total of 600.2 mil. m3 of water were produced, of which 593.6 mil. m3 were intended for implementation and 471.8 mil. m3 was drinking water invoiced to households and other users. Since 2007, the amount of invoiced drinking water has been decreasing continually (a decline by 11.3% between 2007 and 2013). Households, which accounted for 66.5% of drinking water abstraction (313.6 mil. m3) in 2013, have been decreasing their consumption since 2007 as well. Reduction of the quantity of water produced is also derived from the reduction of drinking water loss in distribution networks, which was 17.9% of the total volume of produced water intended for implementation in 2013 (in 2000 this was 25%). This means that 29.5 l of water were lost per each inhabitant and day in 2013 and water consumption per one inhabitant supplied from public water mains amounted to 166.9 l/inhabitant/day (specific consumptive use of the water produced). The per capita water consumption reflects the trends in water abstraction. In households, 87.2 l/inhabitant/day were consumed in 2013, which is 81.0% of the value of the year 2000. Declining water consumption in households is caused by 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 9.85 mil. people (93.8% of the Czech Republic’s population). There is also a long-term influence of rising water and sewer rates 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.

An international comparison
The quantity of abstracted water is related to the demand for water in various sectors, but it is also important to take availability of water resources into account. 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 (except the Morava catchment area) belongs to countries with a sufficient quantity of water resources relative to water consumption. Compared to other European countries, the Czech Republic’s total water abstraction per capita is below average, totalling 180 m3 per capita per year. In terms of the amount of water resources, the most vulnerable regions are located in Spain, Portugal, Cyprus, southern and eastern France, in the south of the United Kingdom, in Belgium and eastern Estonia. The lack of water in these areas is caused by adverse natural conditions and as a result of anthropogenic interventions in the water regime. Uneconomical use of water and increasing abstraction, especially for agricultural production (e.g. in Spain, Portugal and Cyprus), have a greater impact on the overall water balance in these regions rather than in countries with enough water resources. In many countries, the total water abstraction is increased substantially by using water for cooling in electricity generation (e.g. in Estonia, Bulgaria, Serbia, Hungary etc.). 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)1 such as Scandinavia, Iceland, a great part of the Baltic states, Slovakia and Switzerland, this state is influenced by the given natural conditions.

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