Responsibilities in the area of water protection were, until 1991 when the Czech Environmental Inspectorate was founded, executed by the Czech Water Management Inspectorate, which had existed from 1960 as an expert controlling authority for water management. As a result of their merger CEI became the competent state authority with the right to impose financial sanctions and corrective measures in the area of water management.
The main responsibility is the supervision over the enforcement and compliance of the Water Act (No.254/2001 Coll.), related rules and decisions issued under the rule of this Act. This activity covers the control of the pollution sources as well as watching over potential threats in the municipal, industrial and agricultural sectors.
The Inspectorate is obliged to insist on the adoption of measures to rectify identified shortcomings or violations, including their underlying causes and resulting consequences. This includes also the right to impose fines against culprits. In cases of very serious hazards to the environment the Inspectorate is entitled to order the suspension of production or other activities that cause the hazardous situation until the time when such shortcomings or violations have been removed.
The Inspectorate focuses primarily on supervising:
- waste water discharges into surface and ground waters,
- discharges of waste water containing particularly dangerous substances into public sewage systems,
- construction, operation and maintenance of waste water treatment plants and other installations neutralizing, reducing or removing pollution in waste waters,
- protection of surface and ground waters against pollution by harmful substances that results from the handling of or manipulation with such substances on a large scale,
- compliance with the provisions of the Water Act concerning charges for the discharge of wastewater into surface waters.
The protection of water against harmful substances is closely connected with another important activity of the Inspectorate. In cases of uncontrolled discharges of harmful substances due to industrial accidents, the Inspectorate is one of the authorities that are obliged to investigate the causes of such accidents, impose measures to remove them and to prescribe sanctions for violations that have been identified. Since the adoption of Act No. 254/2001 Coll. the Inspectorate is responsible for maintaining a central register of accidents endangering the quality of surface and ground waters.
Specific problems to be dealt with are ground water contaminations from the time before the privatization of large enterprises, as well as unsatisfactory situation in the proximity of some mines and landfill sites. The Inspectorate, where needed, imposes corrective measures and controls their compliance.
The water protection department has performed competency in applicability of law on the prevention of severe accidents since 2000, caused by selected dangerous chemical substances and chemical preparations (since 2006 Act No 59/2006 Coll.), came into force, strengthening the operational rules of a number of specific installations storing dangerous substances or chemical preparations.
Agricultural companies, which will receive agricultural grants (direct payments and supports from the European agricultural fund for rural development) in the framework of the cross – compliance system, are controlled on the basis of the regulation No 1782/2003 of the Council and the regulation No 796/2004 of the European Commission since 2009. The water protection department will aim for compliance with the Directive of the Council of European Union No 80/68/EEC related to protection of groundwater against the pollution due to specific dangerous substances, it is § 39 in the Water Act No 254/2001 Coll.
Water Protection Legislation