A citizen survey of the Virojoki catchment area yielded interesting results: the status of water bodies surprised residents and deteriorating water quality has reduced water use

News 2021-07-01 at 15:04
River Virojoki. © Eija Putkuri.

As part of the SEVIRA-project, SYKE's researchers and experts from the municipalities of Virolahti and Miehikkälä carried out a public survey regarding water bodies in the Virojoki catchment area at the end of 2020. The questionnaire was sent at random to 734 permanent and holiday residents of Virolahti and Miehikkälä municipalities. A total of 329 responses were received. The high response rate indicates the interest of the topic among both permanent and holiday residents.

Many respondents received new information on the status of water bodies, activities, and citizen monitoring; holiday residents even more than permanent residents. The most familiar aquatic environment differs between permanent and holiday residents: the lake was the most familiar to holiday residents and the river environment to permanent residents. One in four respondents had experienced that the water bodies in the area had changed to the worse, and just over half of them had reduced their use of water bodies as a result of this change.

The survey asked respondents how they have used water bodies in the area over the past three years.

According to the respondents, the two most obvious goals for water management are to improve water quality and ensure the adequacy of water, the next most important issues being the rise of migratory fish and the management of fish stocks.

Among the proposed ways to improve the condition of water bodies, the reduction of litter became the most important goal. However, all the means presented received support from most respondents. For example, the goal of reducing the load from peat production was considered very important by 43 percent and quite important by 31 percent of respondents, and the reduction of the nutrient load from fish farming was considered very important by 23 percent and quite important by 43 percent.

Many respondents were surprised by the ecological status of the waters. Many respondents had assumed the condition of the water bodies to be better.

The survey presented an imaginary situation in which a local water management and restoration association would be established in the area. Nearly half, 47 percent, of all respondents in the Virojoki study area and up to 58 percent of holiday residents would be willing to pay an annual membership fee to a local water management and restoration association if one were established in the area.

The survey gives several concrete ideas for water management in the Virojoki river basin. All 70 ideas are gathered by theme in the report. Report is available only in Finnish.

More information

  • of the survey
    development engineer Virpi Lehtoranta
  • of the SEVIRA-project
    project coordinator Ljudmila Vesikko


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