Upper catchment of Vah River rehydratiation


Upper catchment of Vah River rehydratation

Organization: PaW - NGO People and Water (Slovakia)

The pilot project in the Váh River Basin aims to improve spring abundance and stability through natural water retention measures. By managing rainwater effectively, the project aims to regenerate springs, reduce soil erosion, and mitigate climate change impacts. Monitoring and quantification of results will support replication in other areas, promoting drought resistance and reducing flash flood risks in the long term.

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General Info

In Slovakia, the Danube River's hydrology is influenced by rainwater management practices in rural areas, often underestimated, leading to diminished water resources in headwaters. This has caused springs and small watercourses to dry up during long-term droughts, affecting overall river flows.

The DALIA research project aims to demonstrate cost-effective measures to restore underground water sources and increase spring yields, supporting integrated watershed management across Slovakia's 46,961 km² Danube basin. The region, shaped by diverse land uses including forestry and agriculture, features over 65,000 km of small watercourses feeding into the Danube, with the Váh and Hron rivers directly flowing into it.

Despite receiving ample precipitation annually (34.3 billion m³), hydrogeological challenges in Paleogene flysch sediments hinder significant groundwater accumulation. The Kysúc region, characterized by a cold climate and 51% forest cover, faces hydrological impacts from economic activities, including flood disasters. Conservation efforts in the northwestern Kysúce Basin aim to protect its natural heritage amidst developmental pressures.

What measures have been taken?

Slovakian Danube Protection Strategy (DPS)

  • Focuses on Nature-Based Solutions (NBS) for landscape restoration.
  • Targets springs, small watercourses, and flood resilience.
  • Tests rainwater extraction methods and assesses NBS impacts on hydrology.

Model Area: Kysuca River Headwaters

  • Covers 1053 km², part of the Váh River tributary.
  • Studies landscape revitalization effects on water restoration.
  • Develops basin-wide restoration strategies.

Implementation Methodology

  • Installs hydro-meteorological stations in ten micro-catchments.
  • Measures precipitation and evaluates water retention measures.
  • Focuses on reducing runoff, erosion, and enhancing water tables.


  • Responds to the 2004 windstorm in High Tatras National Park.
  • Uses fallen wood for innovative water retention measures.
  • Involves global collaboration and volunteer efforts for ecosystem restoration.

Environmental Impact

Rainwater Utilization and Ecosystem Benefits

  • Retained rainwater supports ecosystems and enhances vegetation growth.
  • Promotes climate moderation and biodiversity in landscapes.

Community Decision-Making and Stormwater Management

  • Uses stormwater runoff for new water sources, crucial for community decisions.
  • Ecosystem-based water resource protection, like New York's Running Pure study, is cost-efficient.

Government Action and Flood Management in Slovakia

  • Responds to floods with landscape revitalization and flood management programs.
  • Implements over 100,000 cost-effective water retention measures.

Implementation Strategy: Cascading Water Retention Measures

  • Creates cascades of measures in mountain forests, focusing on areas with low costs and high needs.


The project validates rainwater retention and runoff slowing to restore groundwater, replenish springs, and mitigate erosion and floods. It focuses on restoring wind-damaged monoculture forests with these techniques, inspired by successful projects in the Tatra Mountains. Rainwater analysis in the Kysuce basin reveals urban areas' surprising role in floods. The study aims to correlate water retention measures with increased water yield, emphasizing methodological refinement and community collaboration for maximum impact.