LIFE Project Cover Photo

Implementation of sustainable groundwater use in the underground karst system of the Krsnohorsk jaskya Cave

Reference: LIFE11 ENV/SK/001023 | Acronym: KRASCAVE

PROJECT DESCRIPTION

BACKGROUND

Slovakian groundwater resources have experienced significant depletions (by as much as 35%) since 1980. The problem is particularly acute in the area of the Slovak Karst. Intensification of agriculture and forestry have played parts in destabilising traditional hydrological systems and led to landscape changes as well as flooding issues that affect important natural heritage sites such as the Domnica Cave. The project focuses on a protected area within the Slovak Karst National Park which includes part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage List site at the 'Caves of Slovak Karst and Aggtelek Karst. It is necessary to introduce preventive measures to protect this sensitive area and to ensure its sustainable development. There is a unique stalactite and stalagmite decoration in the Karst of Krsnohorsk Cave but this cave is also the only source of drinking water for local inhabitants. The current approach to exploiting this water source for the commune of Krsnohorsk Dlh Lka is considered a threat to the long-term sustainability of the stalactite and stalagmite as well as the karsts other features. The project addresses the identified problems and proposes several measures to protect the water source as well as to enable sustainable development of this sensitive karst region.Slovakian groundwater resources have experienced significant depletions by as much as 35% since 1980. The problem is particularly acute in the area of the Slovak Karst National Park. Intensification of agriculture and forestry activities have played parts in destabilising traditional hydrological systems and led to landscape changes as well as flooding issues that affect important natural heritage sites such as the Domnica Cave. The project focused on a protected area within the Slovak Karst National Park which includes part of the UNESCO World Cultural Heritage site, the 'Caves of Slovak Karst and Aggtelek Karst. Preventative measures needed to be taken to protect this sensitive area and to ensure its sustainable development. While the Karst of Krsnohorsk Cave contains unique stalactite and stalagmite examples, it is also the only source of drinking water for local inhabitants. The approach to exploiting this water source for the commune of Krsnohorsk Dlh Lka was considered a threat to the long-term sustainability of the stalactites and stalagmites as well as the karsts other features.


OBJECTIVES

The KRASCAVE project's objective was to reduce the risk of contamination of a key drinking water source in the ecosystem of the Krsnohorsk Cave. This aim would be achieved by implementing innovative activities that contribute to the requirements of the Water Framework Directive at a local level. The project planned to help reduce risks to the fragile karst ecosystem that remains dependent on the quantity and quality of groundwater.

Specific objectives included:

  • a comprehensive assessment of individual components of the underground landscape, comprising: water sampling; quantitative and qualitative monitoring of the water samples; tracing tests using environmental tracers; and field mapping with detailed documentation on 3GIS maps;
  • creation of models to record the functionality of groundwater resources as well the interacting factors which affect groundwaters. Such models would be able to illustrate the impact on groundwaters from different scenarios that might occur and influence the project site;
  • developing and testing a prototype facility for securing drinking water supplies for the population of the Krsnohorsk Dlh Lka village and protecting the drinking water from turbidity problems. A turbidity detection device would be developed to provide an early warning system for controlling the quality of drinking water from karst sources;
  • delineation of environmentally sensitive sites (hot spots) and drawing up of a set of management rules for these individual environmentally sensitive sites. These rules would take account of factors affecting water quality in the vicinity of the Krsnohorsk jaskya Cave; and
  • monitoring of the projects effects on groundwater quality and water use patterns by local community stakeholders.

  • RESULTS

    The KRASCAVE project helped reduce the risk of contamination of drinking water source in the ecosystem of Krasnohorska Cave, while also addressing risks to the fragile karst ecosystem.

    Specifically, the project reached these objectives by:

  • developing calibrated computer models of interactions of biotic and abiotic components of the Krasnohorska Cave;
  • designing and demonstrating a monitoring prototype for protecting drinking water from the effects of turbidity occurring in water. This prototype which provides real-time/online data on water quality and early warning in case of water quality deterioration was tested for around two years;
  • outlining environmentally sensitive sites, or hot spots, and proposing changes to their management that would avoid contamination of groundwater and of the karst ecosystem; and
  • raising public awareness through a combination of stakeholder events and publications aimed at the general public, including children and young people.
  • The development of the monitoring prototype device and the implementation of land protection measures in line with protection of a special natural heritage (Krasnohorska Cave) has a great demonstration potential. Additionally, the online monitoring of water quality with an automatic warning system can also be considered an innovative approach allowing both prompt reactions in case of water deterioration and evidence-based information for the general public and relevant authorities. The management of a well-known cave in Slovakia, Demanovska Cave, has expressed an interest in adopting a similar approach. The project moreover can be said to have had a positive impact on tourism and local businesses, with the number of visitors and interest in the region increasing. The number of households connected to the municipal water supply system increased from 54% in 2014 to 66.6% in 2018. Concerning the future sustainability of the project, recent information indicates that the proposed protection and improvement measures will be reflected in forest and agriculture land management plans, which is very promising in terms of policy support and as regards long-term environmental benefits.

    Further information on the project can be found in the project's layman report and After-LIFE Communication Plan (see "Read more" section).

    ADMINISTRATIVE DATA


    Reference: LIFE11 ENV/SK/001023
    Acronym: KRASCAVE
    Start Date: 01/06/2012
    End Date: 31/12/2018
    Total Budget: 1,244,326 €
    EU Contribution: 613,238 €
    Project Location: Krasnohorska Dlha Luka, SK

    CONTACT DETAILS


    Coordinating Beneficiary: Statny geologicky ustav Dionyza Stura Bratislava
    Legal Status: PAT
    Address: Mlynska dolina 1, 81704, Bratislava, Slovakia Slovensko
    Contact Person: Peter Malík
    Email: peter.malik@geology.sk
    Tel: +421-2-59375416
    Website: www.geology.sk/krascave


    LIFE Project Map

    ENVIRONMENTAL ISSUES ADDRESSED

    THEMES

    • Sensitive and protected areas management
    • Water resources protection
    • Rocky and Caves

    KEYWORDS

    • protected area
    • drinking water
    • pollution prevention
    • groundwater
    • risk management
    • water resources management

    TARGET EU LEGISLATION

    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)

    BENEFICIARIES

    Name Type
    Statny geologicky ustav Dionyza Stura Bratislava Coordinator
    OZ Speleoklub Minotaurus Roznava, Slovakia Participant
    OZ Envi Slovakia Bratislava, Slovakia Participant

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