Published on: 14.2.2020

Information produced by Finnish Environment Institute

Who makes decisions about river regulation?

Decisions about river regulation and lake water level regulation are made by the holder of a regulation permit, who must comply with the permit conditions.

The holder of a regulation permit may be a hydropower company, the central government, a land drainage company or some other operator, or even a private individual. The permit holder makes the decisions about flow regulation at any one time, however within the limits set in the permit conditions. The permit conditions determine the extent to which flow regulation may affect lake water levels.

In regulation projects concerning large river basins, the permit holder usually is the central government, and these projects are managed by the regional Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment (ELY Centre). The ELY Centre controls regulating dams or determines the water volume electricity companies are allowed to run through their turbines.

Regulation permits for such lakes as Päijänne, Vanajavesi, Lappajärvi and Kallavesi are held by the government.

Decisions on regulation are made proactively where possible and, for example, larger flows may be needed in early spring to provide capacity for meltwaters in a lake and to avoid spring floods.

Image: Oravajoki dam. © Eija Isomäki, ELY Centre