Mineral water extraction on the rise in Estonia

Mineral water in a store.
Mineral water in a store. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Last year, 11 percent more mineral water was pumped from the ground in Estonia than in 2021. More than half of this was extracted by Värska Originaal.

Last year, 35 million liters of mineral water was pumped from the ground in Estonia, which amounts to around 89 cubic meters a day. The water is extracted by three different companies, all located in Värska, Võru County, .

"This is about 11 percent more than a year ago. Almost 55 percent of this amount was pumped by Värska Originaal - nearly 48 cubic meters per day. 21 cubic meters per day was pumped by the Värska Sanatorium, while Verska Mineraalvee OÜ pumped 18 cubic meters a day," said Merli Hass, head of the Estonian Environmental Board's environmental management department.

Hass added, that the remaining two percent of the mineral water extracted from the ground last year, was likely to have been pumped by private individuals.

According to Oliver Jõgeva, export manager at Värska Originaal, the company exports a fifth of its mineral water, which is around four million liters a year.

"Finland is by far our biggest export country and is where we sell most of our mineral water. To a lesser extent, we also sell to Latvia, Lithuania, Ukraine and South Korea. To South Korea we have now been selling for I think four years. [There are] two customers who buy and, steadily, one container goes [there] a month."

Jõgeva said that Värska Originaal pumped two million liters more mineral water last year than in 2021, adding that demand has been growing both in Estonia and abroad.

"In fact, today the production capacity of Värska Originaal AS is already close to its maximum. The plant is running at full capacity and the only way we see to increase the production of natural mineral water is by reducing the production of regular drinking water."

Merli Hass of the Estonian Environmental Board explained, that the Ministry of Climate sets limits for any company pumping water from the ground below the level at which groundwater extraction becomes harmful to the environment. In Värska, that limit is 540 cubic meters  per day, so there is still room for more to be pumped, Hass said.

"If you look at the general trend for mineral water, in 2016 we were extracting 50 cubic meters of mineral water per day and now we are extracting almost 90 cubic meters a day. So the increase has been quite good. I would predict that this upward trend will continue over the coming year. The demand for our mineral water is there."

According to the Environmental Board, there are a total of 16 boreholes in Estonia for the extraction mineral water.

"At least half of them actually extract large quantities of mineral waters," said Hass. Värska Originaal owns three of them.


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Editor: Michael Cole

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