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Mr. Hannes Puu
ICID National Committee of Estonia (ESTICID)
Chief Specialist
Estonian Ministry of Rural Affairs
Tahe 4, Tartu
Tartumaa - 51010

Tel : +3725209871
Fax : +3726256241
Email : hannes.puu@agri.ee


Mr. Mati Tonismae
ICID National Committee of Estonia (ESTICID)
Head of the Bureau of Infrastructure
Ministry of Agriculture
Lai 39/41
15056 Tallinn

Tel : +372 625 6105
Fax : +372 625 6200
Email : soerimati@gmail.com

Member - WG-SDRG


Mr. Hannes Puu
ICID National Committee of Estonia (ESTICID)
Address as ahove

Email : hannes.puu@pma.agri.ee

Member - ERWG

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Geography and population


Estonia, with a total area of 45 100 km2, is one of the three Baltic states. It is bordered in the north by the Gulf of Finland, in the east by the Russian Federation, in the south by Latvia and in the west by the Baltic Sea.


Estonia is situated on the southern slope of the Fennoscadian shield. The territory of Estonia rose from the sea bed and its surface is relatively flat with an average altitude of 50 m above sea level. The higher areas are the Haanja uplands in the southeast, with a peak of 318 m, and the Pandivere uplands in the northeast, with a peak of 166 m.

More than 1500 islands in the Baltic Sea are part of Estonia, constituting 9% of the territory. There are over 1400 lakes, covering over 6% of the total area of the country, and about 21% of the total area is swamp. The soils of Estonia are generally heavy and stony.


The cultivable area is estimated at almost 1.4 million ha, which is 30% of the total area of the country. In 1995, the total cultivated area was 863 324 ha, of which 98.5% was covered by annual crops. Since independence, the agricultural sector has been going through a process of privatization.


The total population is about 1.5 million (1996), of which 27% is rural. About 41% of the urban population lives in the capital Tallinn. The average population density is 33 inhabitants/km2, varying from 12 inhabitants/km2 on Hiiumaa Island to 127 inhabitants/km2 in Harjumaa county, where the capital is located.


Climate and water resources




The sea has an impact on the climate throughout the country. Winters are mild, springs are short, summers are warm and sunny, and autumns are long and windy. The average precipitation is 632 mm/year, but is somewhat lower on the islands and in the coastal areas while being somewhat higher in the uplands.


The climatological conditions allow the cultivation of one crop per year during summer with irrigation possibly needed in May and June. In dry years, it is necessary to irrigate in July and August as well. However, more important than irrigation is drainage. It is estimated, that without drainage about two-thirds of the land for agricultural production would suffer from waterlogging.


River basins and surface water resources


Estonia can be divided into five hydrological basins: the Lake Peipus-Narva basin in the east; the Gulf of Finland basin in the north; the Gulf of Riga basin, including the Salaca River, in the southwest; the Muhu Sound basin, including the Gauja River, in the southeast; and the Islands.


The Internal Renewable Water Resources (IRSWR) are estimated at 11 712 million m3/year. A total quantity of about 96 million m3/year is estimated to flow from Latvia and the Russian Federation into Estonia, while an estimated 406 million m3/year flow from Estonia into Latvia and the Russian Federation.


The IRSWR artificial Lake Narva in the northeast was created in 1956, when the Narva hydropower plant started operating. Its total area is 191 km2, of which 38 km2 are located within Estonia. Its average depth is 1.8 m, its deepest point 15 m.


Groundwater resources


Estonia is rich in groundwater resources. The internal renewable groundwater resources are estimated at 4 km3/year. Generally, in southern Estonia the groundwater of the Devonian aquifer is used, while in western and sporadically in central Estonia the water of the Silurian-Ordovician horizon is used. Groundwater covers about two-thirds of the drinking water supply. Part of the groundwater flows out to the sea and part returns to the surface water system. This latter part, which is already accounted for in the runoff (overlap), has been estimated at 3 km3/year.


Water use and wastewater


In 1995, the water withdrawal for agricultural, domestic and industrial purposes was estimated at 158 million m3, of which only 5% for agricultural purposes. In addition, more than 1 200 million m3 were used for cooling in the thermal power production in the Narva region and about 172 million m3 for fisheries.


For the majority of towns and settlements, groundwater is the only source of drinking and industrial water, except in the towns of Tallinn and Narva near the coast where groundwater resources are very limited. In 1995, about 88% of the population had access to drinking water supply.


The total quantity of wastewater produced in 1995 was 396 million m3, of which 378 million m3 was treated.


Irrigation and drainage development


Drainage development


Drainage of agricultural land in Estonia dates back to the seventeenth century, when the first areas of pasture land were drained artificially. At present about 732 000 ha, or almost 85% of the cultivated land, are drained, of which 650000 ha, or 89%, are equipped with subsurface drainage systems. In addition, an estimated 560600 ha of forests, or 13% of the total forest area, are said to be drained.


The cost of drainage development (1995) varies between US$ 1620 and 2000/ha for open drainage systems and between US$ 2 150 and 2 800/ha for subsurface drainage systems.


Irrigation development


The irrigation potential is estimated at 150 000 ha. In the coastal areas it is not possible to irrigate without the construction of reservoirs. All irrigation is sprinkler irrigation. The irrigation areas are mainly located in the north and east of the country. All the area is irrigated by surface water, of which 80% by pumping in rivers and 20% from reservoirs. The main irrigated crops are pasture and vegetables.


Almost 70% of the irrigated areas are found in large-scale schemes, with areas between 100 and 300 ha each, while under 1% of the irrigated areas are in schemes of less than 10 ha each. The cost of the development of sprinkler irrigation schemes varies from US$ 500/ha for large-scale schemes to US$ 810/ha for small-scale schemes, while the average costs of O&M are estimated at US$ 160/ha for large-scale schemes and US$ 200/ha for small-scale schemes.


Trends in water resources management


The restoration of Estonia&&146;s independence has brought with it significant changes in ownership and in the institutional framework of the economy. The transition process in the economy has caused changes in landownership. The large drainage systems have to be shared among new landowners, and land and water associations need to be established to oversee the operation, maintenance and management of the drainage systems.


Intensive agriculture has led to an increase in nitrogen concentration in groundwater through the intensive use of fertilizers. A decline in the use of fertilizers in recent years seems to have already resulted in a decrease in the nitrogen concentration in groundwater wells. While deeper groundwater layers meet the existing drinking water standards, upper groundwater layers in many regions are still polluted with nitrogen components. Close to former military bases, groundwater is often polluted with oil products. The drastic reduction in economic activity since 1989 and the construction of new wastewater treatment plants have already reduced pollution considerably.


Estonia and ICID


Estonia joined ICID in 2001, and has since been actively associated with ICID activities at national as well as international level. Estonia National Committee (ESTICID) is actively represented in ICID Workbody, European Regional Working Group (ERWG). ESTICID also got the honour of holding 10th International Drainage Workshop jointly with FINCID in the year 2008.

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