The Republic of Belarus, according to its natural conditions, belongs to the average geographical zone of the CIS in terms of water availability. There are more than 10 thousand lakes and reservoirs in Belarus, the total volume of water in which is about 6 billion m3, and 20.8 thousand rivers with a total length of 90.6 thousand km. Large rivers, the length of which is more than 500 km: Dnieper, Western Dvina, Neman, Vilia, Pripyat, Sozh, Berezina. The density of the river network on average in Belarus is about 40 km / 100 km2. In the north-eastern part, which is more elevated and dissected, it exceeds 60 km/ 100 km2, and in the southern part, where the flat Polesie lowland is located, it is half the average. The flow of rivers flowing through its territory (for the average water content of the year) is 57.9 km3. Most of it (34.0 km3, or 59%) is formed within the territory of Belarus (local runoff). In an average year, surface water resources are 57.9 km3, including those formed within the country – 34 km3. In high-water years, the total river flow increases to 92.4 km3, and in low-water years it decreases to 37.2 km3 per year. Renewable (natural) groundwater resources amount to 15.9 km3 per year, exploitable reserves – 2.3 km3 per year. The annual total flow to neighboring countries is distributed approximately as follows. 56% – to Ukraine, 25% – to Latvia, almost 2% – to Russia and Poland.
Belarus is characterized by intra-district differentiation of water availability. The main part of the local runoff is formed in the basins of the Dnieper with Berezina and Sozh (11.6 km3 / year) and the Neman with Vilia (9.26 km3 / year), which give 57.3% of its own surface water resources. Much less falls on the basins of the Western Dvina and Pripyat, which in approximately equal shares provide 38.4% of surface water resources. The predominant part of transit waters comes to Belarus through the Western Dvina – 7.29 km3 / year (37.1%) and Pripyat – 5.74 km3 / year (27.7%). The remaining transit waters come in equal shares along the Dnieper and Sozh.
Natural resources of fresh groundwater are distributed throughout the territory of Belarus and are estimated at 15.9 km3 / year, explored operational reserves – 2.29 km3 / year, or 13% of the projected resources. They are enough to meet the needs of the population and the economy. The degree of utilization of exploitable groundwater reserves in Belarus as a whole is 28%.
There is a significant differentiation of resources and groundwater reserves by regions of Belarus (Table 3.8). The largest exploitable reserves of groundwater are in Minsk and Gomel regions, the smallest in Grodno.
Table 3.8 Resource requirements
Resources and reserves of groundwater by regions of Belarus,
as of 1.01.2001*
Groundwater resources, thousand m3/day.
Explored operational reserves
number of deposits, pcs.
reserves, thousand m3/day.
Total in Belarus
*According to the data: see [3, p. 53].
The water management balance of Belarus is positive, water resources not only meet the needs, but also have some reserve for the development of sectors of the national economy (Table 3.9). Water intake of surface and groundwater for domestic and economic purposes does not exceed an average of 5-7% of annually renewable water resources.
However, there is unevenness and discrepancy between the territorial distribution of water resources and water consumers, which complicates the task of water supply to the population.
Table 3.9 Resource requirements by component
Grouping of urban settlements of Belarus by natural provision of river (surface) water resources*,
Number of cities with river water supply, thousand m3 / day.
less than 50,0
Total in Belarus
*Numerator – the distribution of urban settlements by water consumption in rivers with 95% security (potential resources). The denominator is the distribution of urban settlements according to the really possible intake of river water, provided that the rivers are preserved in a domestic unregistered state and damless water intake (operational resources).
**Polotsk and Novopolotsk are taken into account.
Water savings as a result of the introduction of recycling and re-sequential water supply systems in the industry are generally quite high (92%) and the trend of increasing the total volume of water use in these systems continues. Water resources are used irrationally. Thus, the consumption of drinking water per capita in the cities of Belarus is 180-370 l / day, which is significantly higher than in most European countries (120-150 l / day). On average, 218 liters per day per inhabitant are used for household and drinking needs.
The quality of groundwater used for housing and communal needs mainly meets the requirements of “drinking water”. However, the effectiveness of their use remains very low. There is practically no accounting of water use with the help of hydrometric equipment, in many enterprises primary accounting is determined by indirect methods. A significant part of underground drinking water is used for industrial and technical water supply and irrigation of agricultural land. And although Belarus has a powerful technical base for the recycling and reuse of water for production needs, about 90% of all wastewater is discharged into surface water bodies.
A constant and most dangerous pollutant of water resources is agricultural production due to imperfect technology and irrational use of mineral fertilizers and chemical plant protection products. As a result, over the past 10 years, the mineralization of water has increased. Of particular danger to humans are water-soluble nitrates. In accordance with the standards of the World Health Organization, they should be no more than 20 mg / l. In Belarus, this norm is exceeded almost 2 times.
Further growth in production volumes, the emergence of new industries and the development of new types of products lead, on the one hand, to an increase in demand for water, on the other hand, to significant pollution of water sources.
Table 3.10 Resource requirements
Forecast of water resources use of Belarus
until 2020, [2, p.77]
1. Water intake from natural water bodies, mln. m3
including from underground sources
2. Use of water, total, million m3
for household needs
for production needs
for agricultural water supply
in fish pond farming
3. Full water consumption
4. Discharge of wastewater into surface water bodies, million m3, total
contaminated and insufficiently cleaned
5. Water consumption per capita, l/day.
The strategic goal in the field of preserving the country’s water potential is to increase the efficiency of use and improve the quality of water resources, balanced with the needs of society and possible climate change.