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State supports people desiring to have a pond

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Prague, Nov 21 (CTK) – More and more Czechs desire to have their own pond and the state has supported their enthusiasm with with five billion crowns in subsidies because the renaissance of their network is important in suppressing the devastating effects of floods, weekly Respekt out Monday writes.

“In 2002 ponds retained more water than all dams during the floods,” Respekt quotes Pavel Vrana, from the Czech fishing Union, as saying.

The 17 deaths caused by the 100-year flood and some 250,000 evacuated people prompted authorities to eventually deal with the state of the inherited water network, Respekt writes.

It says the Agriculture Ministry has found out that Czech ponds, water reservoirs and rivers are silted up with mud to minimally one third.

The ministry stated in its 2007 strategic plan that most technical parts of the water areas, including dikes, are “very old, both physically and morally, and that they may fail to fulfil their role which would have severe consequences, Respekt writes.

It says ponds have a number of purposes besides fishing. They are capable of retaining water in floods, they are reservoirs of water during drought, water is purified in them entirely naturally, and hundreds of animal and plant communities as well as individual species survive only thanks to them.

Monks knew the advantages of ponds already in the 11th century when they started to found them. In the 13th century ponds covered a total area of 10,000 hectares and the area rose up to 180,000 hectares in the 16th century when new ways of breeding fish dramatically raised the profit, Respekt writes.

It says the turning point came with the Thirty-Year-War (1618-48) when the ponds were drained off to strip soldiers of food and poisoned to starve the local inhabitants.

After the war, most ponds had broken dams, or were silted or there was not enough fry, and so ponds were turned into fields and meadows, Respekt writes.

It says the Czech Republic now has some 24,000 ponds, which is enough to meet demand for fish, but not for retention of water.

The ponds retained some 150 million cubic metres of water during the 2002 floods, but the quantity could have been minimally twice as big if all were cleaned up, Respekt writes.

It writes that the construction and repairs of ponds have always required much work. In the past whole villages participated in their building, now the European tax-payer has largely contributed to the repair of Czech ponds, Respekt writes.

It adds that the EU has provided 2.25 billion crowns for the purpose over the past four years.

The state offered another 3.25 billion crowns to fish farmers thanks to a loan from the European Investment Bank, Respekt writes.

It says more than 200 ponds have been repaired and several dozen new still water areas have been built for this money.

Ponds now take up a total area of some 52,000 hectares, Respekt writes referring to data by the Agriculture Ministry and the Czech Fish Farmers Association.

Anyone who obtains a construction permit, stocks original fish species and keeps the quantity of chemicals and feed within legal limits can found a pond in the Czech Republic, Respekt writes.

Yet, to own one or two ponds is a very bad business in spite of the subsidies. That is why new ponds are founded rather by people with a great enthusiasm or with a lot of money, Respekt writes.

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