Published on: 9.5.2022

Information produced by Finnish Environment Institute

Government projects on water resources management

The central government has completed numerous water resources management projects to promote the use and management of aquatic resources in Finland. The range of these projects extends from building artificial lakes to restoring bird habitats.

The history of the government’s water resources management projects goes back to the late 19th century. In the early decades, the government built many log floating channels, as this was a key method of transporting timber. After the Second World War farmland was urgently needed, and the central government completed large-scale flood protection projects and cleared rivers to serve this purpose. Today, increasing numbers of fisheries restoration projects are carried out, the most common objective of which is to rebuild and restore migratory fish populations.

Government water resources management projects have involved building regulating dams, embankments, pumping stations and other structures. The water permits granted for such projects contain provisions regarding the management and use of these structures to ensure their safety. The provisions also include ecological management measures, such as restocking water bodies with fish.

While the government is rarely the permit applicant in new projects, it continues to actively promote and assist many types of water resources management projects. The permits for earlier projects are also updated to conform to changing climatic and hydrological conditions.

Most of the state-owned structures in water bodies are managed by the ELY Centres (Centres for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment). Some of these structures serve public utility projects initiated by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry or the Ministry of the Environment. The ELY Centre for South Ostrobothnia handles all ownership and maintenance tasks of the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry’s structures. Some state-owned structures are also controlled by other parties besides the ELY Centres. Metsähallitus owns old log floating structures, for example, while fish ponds are managed by the Natural Resources Institute Finland, and canals by the Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency.

Image: © Reija Satokangas, Vastavalo