Zywieckie Lake, 70 kilometers southwest of Krakow, has been a popular holiday destination for Poles since its creation with the damming of Sola River in the 1950s. Situated in close proximity to the township of Zywiec, Zywieckie Lake is inundated with resorts, cafes and sailing clubs that cater to the hoards of holiday makers who make the pilgrimage there each year.In recent years this has all changed for the worse with the lake’s shore-line blanketed by a thick layer of rubbish.
Gazeta Wyborcza reports that local authorities, fisherman and ecologists are at a loss as for how to address the growing problem of pollution. The lake’s declining condition has been repeatedly covered by the media, with at least one illegal industrial dumping reported each year. But the situation has not improved with rubbish, particularly household garbage, continuing to build up along the shore and water quality deteriorating. “The water is totally disgusting. As I was fishing I saw a black layer on the water surface, like a film of crude oil.
I couldn’t clean my fishing shoes. I’m not going in that soup again,” said one fisherman.Laying the blame on tourists and townships along the river feeding the lake, local authorities feel they are fighting a losing battle. “That’s not city rubbish, but tourists leave it for us to do. We organized a clean-up several weeks ago and the lake was really clean afterwards. But now it looks like a cesspit again,” Antoni Szlagor, the Mayor of Zywiec told Gazeta Wyborcza.
Efforts to educate people on protecting waterways and lakes, has been unsuccessful to date with some calling for penalties to deter polluters. Other options are financial incentives for recycling in the area.
Another major threat to the lake’s future is the poor state of wastewater management and sewage services in the Zywiec region. Significant infrastructure works are needed to install a sewerage system and modernize wastewater treatment facilities, but funding from government sources and the European Investment Bank for the project falls short of the estimated 160 mln euro needed according to Gazeta Wyborcza. Unless there is a dramatic shift in community attitudes and concerted action by government authorities, it is clear to all concerned that at its current rate of deterioration this once pristine lake will be but a memory for future generations.