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The river Warta - the third largest river in Poland

The River Warta is the third largest river in Poland after the Wisła and Odra but its river basin area lies across entire Poland. The river is 808.2 kilometers long and the catchment area amounts to 54528.7 square kilometers. It begins in Zawiercie and finishes its course, flowing into the Odra in the Kostrzyn region. According to historical records the name of the river comes from soldiers standing guard, minding the defences over the water.

The waters of the Warta are used by industry, community business and agriculture. Two cities, Poznan and Gorzów draw water directly from the River Warta for community and industry purposes. Sewage flows however, from all the sewered places into the river or its tributaries that has resulted in the fact that for many years the river's water does not meet classification guidelines. The largest city depositing sewage directly into the river is Poznań, some 62 million square meters. Even greater deposits are made indirectly by Łódź, 95 million square meters (first to the Ner which in turn flows into the Warta, above the town of Koło). Częstochowa deposits 24 million annually with Konin, 8, Sieradz 4 and Śrem 3. Indirect contributors from tributaries of the Warta are Kalisz 12 and Ostrów Wielkopolski, 5 million square meters respectively per year. No doubt, cities below Poznań on the river such as Oborniki, Wronki, Międzchód, Skwierzyna, Gorzów and Kostryn have an influence on the purity of the water.

Since 1995 there have been attempts to build a sewage purification plant with a full purification cycle (mechanical, biological, eventually chemical with sediment filtration at the same time). Some cities have purification plants and some are in the investment process of this, such as Poznan, Łódź and Kalisz. In 2000, the biological part of the Central Sewage Purification Plant was put into action (the mechanical part has been working for several years). It can be expected therefore that with the beginning of the 21st century the state of purity of the Warta will improve decidedly. It necessary to remember however, that the problem of sewage purification in tens and hundreds of small towns and villages needs to be resolved as does the problem of environmental pollution coming from agriculture.

The River Warta is not only a place for drawing water and depositing sewage but also a communication route and potential flood threat.

Waterways with ports and shipyards, canals, retention dams, anti-flood defence systems, hydro-technological structures, regulatory infrastructures for rivers and canals, drainage systems and the remaining water structures make up the basic framework of the Warta catchment area. The Warta is part of three water routes:

  • Wisła to the Odra, 226.1 kilometers (294.3 including the Lower Warta)
  • Warta's navigable section, joining with the Bydgoszcz canal up to the mouth of the Odra, 406.6 kilometers
  • Warta up to the Bydgoszcz Canal, 146.6 kilometers.

On these water routes it is possible to name the river ports of Bydgoszcz, Nakle, Ujście, Czarnkow, Krzyz, Poznań and Gorzów.

The above infrastructure is used in small degree, mainly because of the decline of water transport as well as a significant decapitalisation of structures and lack of through-traffic depth.

The areas along the Warta and other lakes are secured against floods by a system of embankments and retention dams. The most important of the latter that have strategic significance are:

  • Jeziorsko and Poraj on the river Warta
  • Pakość on the river Noteć West
  • Lake Gopło on the river Noteć East

The capacity of the dam in the catchment area is insufficient from the safeguard point of view of flood levels as well as the need for supplementation of insufficient lowland areas.

The dam that will improve the situation to a significant degree will be that of Wielowieś Klasztorna on the River Prosna (above Kalisz) whose completion has been planned for many years.

The Bureau of the Province Executive Officer is preparing initial documentation that is essential for the making of an appropriate project and the beginning of work.

The "Development Strategy for Wielkopolska", passed by the Council for the Wielkopolska Region has the problems of environmental protection and water management as one of the most important to be resolved in the short as well as the long-term.

At the present moment, the Managing Committee of the Region is developing "A Program for the Protection of The Environment" as well as "A Program of Measured Growth" of the Wielkopolska Region that will allow for an actualisation of projects relating to the River Warta and its tributaries.

Arkadiusz Błochowiak
Deputy Director, Department of Spatial Planning and Ecology
The Bureau of the Regional Executive Officer Wielkopolska Region