No sustainable solution in sight for Viimsi water shortage

Apartment buildings in Viimsi.
Apartment buildings in Viimsi. Source: Siim Lõvi /ERR

Residents of Viimsi Municipality were asked Wednesday to stop watering their gardens, which the municipality government hopes will retain enough water pressure to allow top-floor apartments to still have water.

Water consumption dropped by around 10 percent after the municipality government's request. Because the municipality, just northeast of the capital Tallinn, has seen water shortages in previous years and no sustainable solution is in sight, locals have planted unpretentious plants, collected rainwater or found other tricks to cope.

Viimsi resident Rene said that the household has long since given up on watering its lawn. "I sympathize with people who live in apartments and do not have enough water pressure to shower in the evening or morning, which is when the sprinklers come on."

Average daily water use comes to 3,500 cubic meters in Viimsi, with another 1,500 cubic meters spent on watering gardens in summer, which is when a single household can spend as much water a day as it needs in a month in winter.

"It is understandable if people water their tomato plants, while much more is spent on watering lawns," said Viimsi Municipality Mayor Illar Lemetti.

Viimsi mostly uses local groundwater, while parts of the municipality also rely on neighboring Tallinn's water system. Estonia has introduced limits on groundwater use, which the residents of Viimsi are close to exhausting.

"The limits have been put in place to make sure groundwater use remains sensible and for there to be enough water for longer periods," Lemetti explained.

Viimsi remains an attractive residential area, with its population growing and new consumers moving to the peninsula every year.

"The municipality has decisively limited the number of new developments we approve, which policy change has happened over the last two years," the mayor said.

The municipality has built a new water main between itself and Tallinn to have access to more water, while it still needs a pumping station, which should be completed in a few years' time. But even additional water supply cannot sustainably solve Viimsi's water problem in the face of increasingly hot and dry summers and its growing population.


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Editor: Marcus Turovski

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