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Kravčík’s Blue Alternative in Slovakia

Michal Kravčík is a Slovak hydrologist and environmentalist. He was awarded the Goldman Environmental Prize in 1999 for his work in stopping a large dam on the Torysa River. He argued that the same amount of drinking water could be obtained for 20 per cent of the cost of the dam by terracing the land with small water catchments so that the rainwater could soak into the ground and back into the aquifer.

Blue Planet Project founder Maude Barlow writes, “Kravčík is leading a global effort to save the earth’s hydrologic cycle with watershed restoration. His groundbreaking research has shown that when water cannot return to fields, meadows, wetlands and streams because of urban sprawl, poor farming practices, overgrazing, and removal of water-retentive landscapes, the actual amount of water in the local hydrologic cycle decreases, leading to desertification of once green land.”

She highlights, “[Kravčík] convinced the Slovakian government to implement a national watershed restoration plan, based on traditional methods of rainwater harvesting through storage reservoirs; small wooden, stone, and earthen ‘holding’ dams; cross drains and infiltration pits on country roads; and reparation of eroded ravines and gullies. …The first phase of the project, which ended in 2011 and involved 190 municipalities and more than fifty thousand water-retention measures, was a huge success and helped recover large areas of degraded land. …Slovakia has [now] eagerly embarked on the second phase of this project.”

Kravčík says, “The best way to fight the privatization of water is to ensure there is enough water around your home. Then there is no demand to market the water to.” And as Barlow comments, “He knows this nature-based solution challenges the deepest tenets of economic globalization and the growth imperative behind it. Kravčík also knows that this plan would undermine the massive investment now going into technological solutions such as desalination, wastewater reuse and nanotechnology.”

For more on his work, please see The Goldman Environmental Prize profile of him here, the BLUE Alternative Facebook page here, and the Blue Gold: World Water Wars website here. For his January 2014 commentary on ways that California could address its water crisis, please click here.