Geographia Polonica (2017) vol. 90, iss. 4

Surface water storage in the Orava – Nowy Targ Basin, Western Carpathians

Adam Łajczak

Geographia Polonica (2017) vol. 90, iss. 4, pp. 383-399 | Full text

The Orava – Nowy Targ Basin is one of 31 basins found in the Western Carpathians. While average in size (643 km2), it is the only basin where large amounts of water are stored in vast peat bogs. Until the 16th century,it had not been inhabited and the amount of water stored in peat at that time was estimated to be 171 million m3. Due to the anthropogenic degradation of peat bogs the amount of water has decreased 2.7 times andit is now estimated at 62 million m3. Two dams built in the basin, in the second half of the 20th century, retain reservoirs that store 563 million m3 of water. This amount of water exceeds the earlier loss of water in peatfive times over. If the planned, more ambitious project of dam construction in the basin had been completed,the total capacity of the reservoirs would exceed the water loss in peat by 27 times. The index of lake retention including peat in relation to the area of the basin is determined to be currently 98 cm, but if the project of maximum development of the reservoirs in the basin had taken place, it would reach 270 cm. The estimated useful lifetime of the reservoirs studied suggests theoretically an 80% loss of their initial capacity over a timescaleof one thousand years. Taking into account the current regeneration of peat bogs, there is an optimistic outlook for the protection of the natural and anthropogenic water resources of the basin.

Keywords: surface waters, peat bog, dam-retained reservoir, Orava – Nowy Targ Basin, Orava – Podhale Peatland, Carpathians

Adam Łajczak [], Institute of Geography Pedagogical University of Krakow Podchorążych 2, 30-084 Krakow: Poland