The share of Dnipro Basin water resources is about 80% of the total water resources of Ukraine. Thirty-two million people in Ukraine and two thirds of the economy of the country use this water. Therefore, in addition to taking into account the difficult state of the basin environment, the problem of environmental rehabilitation of the Dnipro Basin is one of the priorities of socio-economic development and environmental policy.
In compliance with corresponding decisions of the President of Ukraine and the Cabinet of Ministers, the National Programme of Environmental Rehabilitation of the Dnipro Basin and Improvement of Drinking Water Quality has been developed and adopted by the Supreme Council of Ukraine (decision of 27 February 1997). The main objectives of the Programme are rehabilitation and sustainable function of the Dnipro ecosystem, quality of water supply, the environmental safety of the basin population, their economic activity and protection of the water against pollution and overexploitation. The Programme is the first one on a national scale based on basin principles and experience from around the world; it is in line with provisions of the “Main aspects of the national policy on environmental protection, utilization of natural resources, and guarantee of environmental safety”, approved by the Supreme Council of Ukraine (5 March 1998). Implementation of the Programme is one of the most important priorities of the Ministry of Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety of Ukraine and also an important part of the national environmental policy.
Preliminary analysis proves that despite a considerable decline of production, the environmental pollution of the Dnipro Basin in 1998 was considerable. No clear tendencies towards an improvement of the surface water quality have been observed in spite of reductions of wastewater discharge volumes. Most water bodies are severely affected by human activities.
In 1998, 430 cases of accidental pollution of 32 water bodies were recorded, which resulted in the limits of permissible concentrations of measured compounds being exceeded by a factor of ten, except for phenol, oil and copper, the concentrations of which exceeded acceptable indices by a factor of 30. Main water contaminants of the Dnipro and its tributaries are organic nutrients and iron coming from the wetlands and catchment areas of upper Dnipro and its tributaries Uzh and Prypiat as well as originating from water blooms in the Dnipro reservoirs. The most considerable cases of biogenical contamination in 1998 have been observed in the Kyiv and Kremenchug reservoirs, whereas the Dnipro reservoir was least contaminated. Before supply, water purification is obligatory by filtration, coagulation and disinfection.
Unusual hydro-meteorological conditions in the Dnipro Basin in 1998 resulted in a further deterioration of the environmental state of the Dnipro reservoirs and the entire basin. Low activity within the framework of the National Programme and Complex Programme of anti-flood measures combined with natural factors (winter ground water flooding in southern Ukraine and autumn catastrophic floods in Zakarpattia) had serious consequences.
The activity to implement the provisions of the National Programme was mainly aimed at pollution reduction of water bodies of the Dnipro Basin;
The goals of the environmental protective measures in 1998 corresponded to the key priorities of the National Programme:
Effective results of the environmental rehabilitation of Dnipro Basin cannot be achieved without a relevant financial support mechanism. Implementation of the National Programme in 1998 has been supported by resources from the state and local budgets and did not exceed them. The limited money available and the actual expenditure for environmental rehabilitation measures do not correspond to the real needs. Total expenditure for the National Programme implementation did not exceed UAH 133 million (in 1997 – about UAH 90 million) including UAH 12 million from the state budget (UAH 5 million from the item “Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety”). Actual needs estimated in the National Programme for the activity in 1998 are UAH 571 million, including UAH 111.5 million from the state budget (item “Environmental Protection and Nuclear Safety”).
For this reason, only a few installations in the Dnipro Basin have completed construction of the environmental facilities, whereas a large number of enterprises have started to reconstruct obsolete environmental facilities and to built new ones. Local resources, according to the information from the region administration, are very limited and cannot be considered as sufficient. Despite this, no changes in the financial mechanism of National Programme implementation have been suggested. This means that in 1999 the ongoing deterioration of the Dnipro Basin environment will not be stopped.
A current evaluation of the applicable mechanism of state financial support of environmental protection activities show many bottlenecks. Most important of them are: a general lack of budget resources for and investments in the environmental sphere; sharing of available money among numerous projects results in long-term processes of activity without real effect and improvement of the environmental state; in this respect a prioritization policy and concentration of the available resources for the most important project implementation may have a visible effect; an unsatisfactory mechanism of a target-oriented use of resources being accumulated in state and local budgets for environmental pollution and special natural resources usage.
Basically, the most serious obstacles for the implementation of the National Programme are of financial nature. The introduction of a mechanism of payments for natural resources use is evaluated currently as a considerable source of permanent income for the state and local budgets. According to the applicable national legislation of Ukraine, the money has to be used for purposes of rehabilitation, renewal and protection of the natural resources against pollution and overexploitation. It is expected that the share of the payments for natural resources use in the total income of the Consolidated state budget in 1999 will amount to UAH 1,450 million. Despite this, only UAH 80.9 million (5.6% of this sum) from the state budget (item “Environmental protection and nuclear safety”) has been set aside to be used for nature protection measures (including UAH 16.9 million for implementation of the National Dnipro Programme).
In the meantime, the actual minimum needs for environmental purposes, assessed by the ministries and other governmental authorities, amount to UAH 190 millions (the National Dnipro Programme requires UAH 80 million). This example is clear evidence that governmental policy requires urgent reconsideration and reorientation, with more attention being paid to the environmental sphere. Negligence of environmental concerns leads to a reactive management strategy instead of a proactive one and results in excessive financial and materials expenditure for counteracting negative environmental and economic consequences, as is evidenced by the catastrophic flooding in Zakarpattia in November 1998.
Setting up a special line of environmental expenditure in the local budgets can be considered as one of the first important steps of the governmental financial policy. In a situation of economic crisis and very limited budgetary resources, this measure will help concentrate local money for environmental projects at the local and regional levels, including those prescribed in the National Dnipro Programme. Without a change of the governmental financial strategy in the environmental sphere, implementation of the National Dnipro Programme will be delayed considerably. In the meantime, environmental rehabilitation of the Dnipro Basin is considered to be an important factor of the economic, social and spiritual renaissance of Ukraine.