Lake Lubāns

The Latvian Environment, Geology and Meteorology Center (LEGMC) in cooperation with 18 partners carries out the project “Implementation of River Basin Management Plans of Latvian towards good surface water status” (acronym: LIFE GOODWATER IP) during 2020-2027 to improve the status of waterbodies in Latvia. Involved organisations include state institutions, municipalities, business companies, research institutions and NGOs.

The project concerns mainly waterbodies at risk – the rivers and lakes, the ecological status of which is not good due to various reasons. Main causes are pollution with plant nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus compounds), as well as various modifications of banks and riverbeds.

Actions of the project take place in 9 waterbodies at risk in Latvia, thus demonstrating examples of good practice in improvement of water quality and status.

There are 89 rivers and 75 lakes in Latvia, which are considered as waterbodies at risk. Lake Lubāns is one of them.

· Lake Lubāns is the largest lake of Latvia – the area is 80.7 km2.

· Nowadays lake Lubāns is 3 times smaller than it was at the end of Ice age (about 12 000 years ago).

· Lake Lubāns is the largest man-dammed lake in Europe – it is surrounded by dams with a total length of 36 km.

· The river Aiviekste flows out of the lake, the rivers Rēzekne and Malta flows in.

· Maximum depth – 2.5 m, average depth –1.6 m.

· There is an island – Akmeņsala.

Lake Lubāns is a very important gathering and feeding site of migratory birds, rare and endangered bird species also breed here, e.g. the Great Bittern Botarus stellaris and the Black Turn Chlidonias niger. According to criteria of the international partnership for conservation of birds BirdLife International, the Lake Lubāns with adjacent fish ponds qualifies for an Important Bird Area (IBA).

The lake is a part of the nature reserve “Lubāna mitrājs”, which is included in the network of Natura 2000 sitesof EUand according to criteria of the Ramsar convention is a wetland of international importance.

An extensive work had been done in Lubāns area during the 19th and 20th century to protect the land from lake’s water, because agriculture was the main type of land use. Thereby man had transformed the nature here significantly and many of nature values were lost.

River straightening and building of dams and channels

· altered landscape – natural river meanders and rapids were lost

· natural flood regime was lost

· suitability for fish spawning decreased

Damming of the lake

· decreased water exchange in the lake

· stopped fish migration from the Aiviekste river

· flood waters do not carry away plant remains any more

Modifications of catchment area and modifications of natural hydrological regime, including partial isolation of the lake from surrounding water circulation, worsened the ecological status of the lake.

During the last centuries man tried to limit and take over nature, while nowadays we start to understand that man and nature can coexist mutually beneficial.

The aim of the project LIFE GOODWATER IP in Lubāns area – to assess implementation of requirements resulting from different EU policies regarding water quality and ecological status of lake Lubāns and to look for the ways to improve them.