WFD Ecological Flows: Using Art. 31 (Finland): “Public participation and collaborative planning in water level regulation projects”

WFD Ecological Flows: Using Art. 31 (Finland): “Public participation and collaborative planning in water level regulation projects”

Executive summary

There are more than 300 regulated lakes in Finland and one third of the total lake area is under water level regulation. Most of the regulation projects have started before 70s to enhance hydropower production and flood defence protection. Changes of Finnish environmental legislation in 1994 enabled to revise regulation permits if they cause significant adverse impacts on the water environment or on its use. There have been more than hundred regulation development projects and 30 – 40 includes also principles of so called Ecological regulation practice (Hellsten et. al. 1996). These projects have led to changes in existing water regulation practice within the existing permits. As a part of these projects, Finnish environment institute SYKE has developed a participatory approach supported by multi-criteria decision (MCDA) analysis to improve the quality of the planning processes (Marttunen & Suomalainen 2005). In addition, a set of calculation tools to using hydrology-ecology-socio economical relationships based on empirical data or known correlations e.g. between littoral vegetation and winter drawdown (environmental flow sensu lato) (Keto et al. 2009). The opinions of different stakeholders to different water level regulation schemes have been found out in decision analysis interviews supported by MCDA software (Marttunen & Hämäläinen 2008, Hämäläinen et al. 2010). Wider public has also been involved by postal questionnaires and organizing open meetings. Finland is proposing “water course regulation development approach” as a case study due to its good applicability for environmental flow cases, too. The Lake Koitere development project carried out between 2004 and 2006 is a good example of the Finnish approach (Tarvainen et al. 2006).

General information

Member State(s): Finland

RBD(s): Vuoksi River basin district FIVHA1 

Location: East-Finland, Lake Koitere

Time period (start/end): 2004 to 2006 


In case you request further information, please access:
- Hellsten, Seppo,, telephone:+358405004999

- Websites referring to the case study: in Finnish 

The full case study is available at: 

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