New project aims to save the Czech Republic’s natural springs


It might come as a surprise that there are any natural springs in Prague at all, but in fact there were over a hundred of them at last count. But those figures may soon be consigned to history as in Prague, as well as the rest of the country, these once important sources of drinking water disappear through neglect. The prospect depresses environmentalists, some of whom have set up a new internet project to save the springs. On a cold September morning, I visited one of Prague’s greenest outcrops to see some of the springs in danger and find out more:

Well, I’m standing at the first of three springs which we are going to see today up in Divoká Šárka, which is a very beautiful natural part of Prague. And I’m here with Michal Kulík who is from the Association of Young Environmentalists, and he is in charge of a project called, which is mapping the natural springs that are here in the Czech Republic, and trying to save some of those springs which may be endangered.

So, Michal, my first question is: how many springs are there currently here in Prague?

“We don’t know exactly how many springs there are in Prague. Around 30 years ago a survey was conducted which found around 250 natural sources of drinking water in the capital. And around 15 years ago there was a follow-up survey, which found only around 120 of them.”

And can you tell me a bit about the estudanky project?

“We have been trying to maintain springs around the country for the last ten years, and we mainly do this through a system of volunteers, but more and more often, people write to us that they have seen a spring on their travels, or that they have one in their garden, and that they can’t look after it, perhaps because they don’t have the time, or the strength.

“And so we thought to ourselves, ‘let’s chart this information’. And it should prove to be an interesting historical document, because, with all of these springs disappearing, people in the future will be able to look at it and say ‘look! In 2008 they had this spring here’.”

After a short walk downhill, Mr Kulík and I come to the second spring in question:

“So, here you see Šárecká Habrovka.”

The brook has a roof over it and, according to Mr Kulík, it is actually in a very good state. The last time he came to check up on it was in the spring. Since then, he says the water level has dropped remarkably - six months ago, the water was gushing over the top of this little dam they have put in here, but now it is trickling down underneath it.

Mr Kulík believes that it is quite natural, and indeed a reflection of our times, that springs such as these in the capital are drying up, or finding themselves buried under urban development. Still, he’s hoping that awareness raised by the estudanky website will help to ensure at least some springs’ future.