Lublin Voivodeship: Speaking clearly about air, water and… noise!
Visitors to the Lublin region need not complain about the lack of attractions. It is a perfect place for lovers of history and beautiful architecture. They will be delighted with Kazimierz Dolny with its atmospheric market square and Renaissance tenement houses. The intimate Zwierzyniec draws visitors in with its renowned brewery, and Nałęczów, thanks to the unique microclimate, will heal your heart. You can fall in love with the spa park – in both a literal and figurative sense!
Nature lovers will find something special here too. The Roztoczański National Park is a great place for a bike trip, and you can climb the wonderful peaks, for example "Bukowa Góra". Can we hold on to this beautiful world here?
There is still some work to be done!
The forestation of the Lublin region is small and below the national average. The economy is based mainly on agriculture, although the richness of mineral resources is also worth mentioning. These include:
- Hard coal (at the end of 2018 mining in the Lublin Coal Basin accounted for 19% of the entire country’s mineral resources).
- Natural gas (2.1% of domestic production).
- Peat (the largest deposits are located in the area of Pojezierze Łęczyńsko-Włodawskie and in Oleśniki).
- Building materials (including marl, chalk, clay and sand).
Despite several significant industrial sites, such as cement plants in Chełm and Rejowiec, the Nitrogen Plant in Puławy, or the coal mine in Bogdanka, industry in the region actually causes relatively low emissions of pollutants into the air. As a result, air quality in the Lublin region is fairly high, but it could always be better.
What needs to be changed? First of all, we have got to reduce anthropogenic emissions caused by human activities. The focus here is on low emissions from the municipal economy (including boiler rooms, individual home furnaces and smaller plants) and transport emissions related mainly to road vehicles.
As part of the monitoring and improvement of the Lublin air, the Parliament of the Lublin Province adopted two air protection programs (the so-called POPs) – for the Lublin metropolitan area (including the city of Lublin) and the Lublin region (the rest of the Voivodeship). Their purpose is to determine actions to achieve the required air quality. Despite its relatively good air quality, the concentrations of some harmful particulates are still exceeded. In 2013-2018, the Lublin metropolitan area and the Lublin region were classified as class C due to exceeding safe 24-hour concentrations of PM10 particulates, and in 2014 for exceeding safe benzo[a]pyrene levels.
What is the goal? An ambitious one – reducing surface emissions of PM10 suspended particulates by about 23% and benzo[a]pyrene by as much as 85%.
In the fight against air pollution associated with heating homes with low-quality fuels, the so-called “anti-smog resolution” adopted by the Sejmik of the Voivodeship in mid-February of this year (comes into force as of May 1, 2021) will certainly help. It identifies the requirements for the cleaner operation of new installations of heating devices, introduces transition guidelines for existing installations that do not meet the requirements, and prohibits using fuels of the lowest quality. The new legal regulations are there to provide citizens with appropriate living conditions, protect their health, and reduce the social costs associated with the health effects of polluted air.
What does it mean in practice? Among others:
Prohibition of using the lowest quality fuels and wood biomass with a humidity of over 20%.
Replacement of boilers that do not meet the requirements and are not adapted to the new regulations.
Prohibition of using solid fuel installations in newly constructed buildings for which the decision-making process, leading to the issuance of the building permit, began after the effective resolution date.
The content of the “anti-smog resolution” for the Lubelskie Voivodeship and its justification can be found HERE.
Clean water? Only under the ground.
The underground water here is of very high quality. You do not have to look far for confirmation – most of us know how effectively “Nałęczowianka” quenches the thirst. The resources are still significant – in 2018, they amounted to 1,282.7 hm3/year and accounted for 7.1% of the fresh water in the country. Where lies (although it would be more appropriate to say "floats") the problem? In the surface waters!
These show sensitivity to eutrophication caused by municipal and agricultural processes. This is due to the consumption of fertilisers (especially natural ones) being 15% higher than the national average and intensive use of plant protection products and irrigation of crops, both of which facilitate the transmission of pollutants to surface waters. A significant threat is the discharge of post-mining waters to surface reservoirs and penetration of spoil heaps by rainwater.
A 2018 study of all rivers in the Voivodeship described 71% of their conditions as concerning. Such information provokes concern and motivates action.
It is necessary, among other things, to increase water retention: to modernise the existing drainage systems and to build multipurpose retention reservoirs. The assumptions and time frames for their implementation are included in the documents developed strictly for the Voivodeship:
- Lubelskie Voivodeship Development Strategy 2014-2020 with a long-term perspective until 2030,
- Environmental protection program of the Lubelskie Voivodeship 2020-2023 with a long-term perspective until 2027,
- Forecast of how the environmental protection program of the Lubelskie Voivodeship 2020-2023, with a long-term perspective until 2027, affects the environment.
Compliance by farmers and breeders with the Code of Good Agricultural Practices recommendations may also significantly minimise the negative impact of agricultural production on the quality of water in the region.
Strategic nationwide documents developed by the National Water Management Holding Polish Waters (“Polish Waters”), which may contribute to the improvement of the condition of surface waters, also in the Lubelskie Voivodeship, including:
- Retention Development Program,
- Drought Effects Counteracting Plan,
- National Surface Water Renaturalisation Program,
- Flood Risk Management Plan,
- National Program of Municipal Wastewater Treatment.
Noise? Yes, it's a bit noisy in here!
The deteriorating acoustic climate of the environment, especially in highly urbanised areas, is a significant threat to the air quality and quality of life of all citizens of the Voivodeship. This is a big problem, not only due to the emission of pollutants into the air. Every day, nearly half of the region’s citizens are exposed to noise pollution! This is mainly due to the poor technical conditions of roads, insufficiently functioning public transport, and the lack of acoustic protection.
There was quite a buzz about this, so the topic is becoming high-profile. Actions aimed at improving this state include:
- Investments introducing traffic beyond urbanised areas (including the Lublin ring road).
- Transferring funds for the expansion of expressways.
- Different traffic arrangements.
- Replacement and construction of noise reducing road surfaces.
- Creating the necessary acoustic barriers.
- Promotion of public transport and bicycle transport.
Speaking of which, in the Lubelskie Voivodeship, the abandonment of cars in favour of bicycles is strongly promoted. Cycling fans have the luxury of extensive bicycle routes and the impressive looking and, above all, efficient Lublin City Bicycles (950 of them are available this year).
Educational activities? Yes, please!
Air pollution is a challenge not only for governments. Apart from legal regulations or technical solutions, social commitment is also essential. This is only possible by constantly increasing eco-awareness and creating good habits, preferably from an early age.
The Management Board of the Lubelskie Voivodeship is fully aware of this; therefore, shortly after adopting the new local law in the form of an “anti-smog resolution”, it initiated an extensive information education campaign. Currently, materials are being prepared, which are to be handed over to local government units of the Lubelskie Voivodeship in the middle of this year, which will then be made available to residents free of charge.
The air quality in the Lubelskie Voivodeship is not the worst, but the authorities still have room for improvement. As part of the remedial actions, efforts are being made to reduce the surface emissions of PM10 particulate matter and benzo[a]pyrene.
This is to be helped by air protection programs that reduce low emissions (including the Clean Air program adopted in 2018). In the Voivodeship, the emphasis is on thermal modernisation of buildings, modernisation of heat sources and installations in industrial plants. Renewable energy sources and educational activities are also supported.
The priority list includes reducing the adverse effects of the deteriorating acoustic climate in the environment by investing in the modernisation and construction of surfaces with reduced noise levels and promoting public transport and cycling.
We believe that if we manage to achieve these ambitious goals, these ideas will only become more popular!
Author: TOGETAIR Editors