A responsible approach to water resources management

GRI indicators
  • 3-3
  • 3-3
  • 303-1
  • 303-2

PGE is aware of the necessity to respect limited water resources.

In its operations, it uses water responsibly for the entire ecosystem, monitors its use and implements solutions to improve the standards of its use in its processes.

Processes related to water and wastewater management in PGE Group installations are carried out in particular on the basis of, inter alia, the Water Law and the relevant executive acts dedicated to water and wastewater management.

These processes are carried out in accordance with the provisions of administrative decisions issued by competent authorities, such as: integrated permits or sector decisions (water law permits).

PGE Group monitors the quantity and quality of water abstracted and sewage discharged in accordance with administrative decisions issued in this respect.

For the technological needs of installations within PGE Group, water from surface water intakes is mainly used, which is subjected to purification processes.

In order to reduce the amount of raw water consumption, closed circuits are used, and the used process water and sewage are introduced to other production processes. Wastewater generated by production activities undergoes treatment, including multi-stage treatment, and is then discharged to surface waters or transferred to municipal enterprises.

Water management in power plants

Terms for conducting water and wastewater management are specified in relevant permits, including mainly integrated permits and water-law permits.

In the Branches of PGE Górnictwo i Energetyka Konwencjonalna, monitoring is carried out on an ongoing basis with regard to the quantity and quality of water abstracted and wastewater discharged.

Depending on environmental conditions, the branches have appropriate water treatment and wastewater treatment technologies. Adapting to the requirements of the BAT conclusions at PGE Górnictwo i Energetyka Konwencjonalna also means reducing emissions to water from flue gas treatment facilities generated in the process of electricity generation. The sewage treatment plant is being modernised and extended in this respect.

The Turów plant, due to its location, is situated in an area characterised by higher than average precipitation levels. Part of the precipitation falling at the foot of the Izera Mountains is naturally retained in the Witka Reservoir, located on the Witka River. This reservoir is the main water intake for the Turów plant. Given that the water in the Witka reservoir comes largely from precipitation, the technological processes in Elektrownia Turów use rainwater to a significant extent. The Turów plant uses only surface water for its operations and does not use underground water intakes.

At the Turów plant, the closing of the water cycle in production processes is carried out by diverting used water for treatment and returning it again to production processes.

All sewage from the power plant site is treated in sewage treatment plants: Industrial Sewage Treatment Plant, Sewage Treatment Plant from Wed Flue Gas Desulphurisation System at unit 7, Sewage Sub-treatment Plant from Flue Gas Desulphurisation System at units 4-6, Ash Settling Plants, Sanitary Waste Water Treatment Plant.

Closing the water cycle in production processes by diverting used water for treatment and returning it back to production processes is carried out.

The expansion of the industrial sewage treatment plant at Turów power station began in 2021. Sewage from the Turów plant is discharged into the Miedzianka River. In order to achieve the environmental objective, it must be ensured that the sewage discharged into the river does not deteriorate its condition, thus the sewage parameters must meet the water quality requirements for a mountain stream class. The implemented project will ensure that the environmental objectives are met, thus bringing Elektrownia Turów into compliance with EU and national environmental requirements.

The industrial wastewater treatment plant will be based on modern, high-efficiency membrane technologies – microfiltration and reverse osmosis. The efficiency of reverse osmosis is approx. 96%-98%, meaning that over 96% of all pollutants will be captured in this process. This will be the first in Poland, and one of the few in the European Union, to use this type of technique so extensively in the area of wastewater treatment. As a result of this project, the Turów plant will be the first power station where treated sewage can be returned to technological systems. The new treatment plant will be the largest treatment plant in the Polish power industry, using membrane technologies with a total capacity of approx. 12,000 m3 per day (at the inlet to the industrial wastewater treatment plant). Implementing this investment will have a positive impact on the border river – the Nysa Łużycka.

At Elektrownia Opole, all sewage from the company’s premises is treated in a final treatment plant. Some types of industrial sewage are subject to multi-stage treatment. Industrial and rainwater wastewater is directed to the final mechanical-chemical treatment plant, where it undergoes a coagulation process. Sewage is treated using the activated sludge method in a biological system, also located in the final treatment plant. The treated industrial and domestic sewage is discharged through a common collector to the Odra river.

In order to improve the sedimentation of incoming suspended solids in the raw sewage and to improve and automate the discharge of sludge to the sludge plots, a radial settling tank with an integrated coagulation chamber has been in operation since 2019. The new settling tank increased the operational reliability of the treatment plant and created a capacity reserve for the equipment at the treatment plant. It operates as the primary plant of the wastewater sequence. The design capacity ensures the capture and treatment of the inflow up to the nominal size of 3 200 m3/h and has a hydraulic reserve.

The Dolna Odra power station has an open cooling system and is equipped with facilities for the reduction of pollutants contained in sewage. Depending on the type of wastewater, it is treated in a chemical treatment plant, a biological treatment plant, mechanical treatment plants or neutralised in neutralisers. Depending on the composition of the wastewater, it is treated in one or two facilities. Rainwater and snowmelt from the ward area is treated using settling tanks and separators. In order to improve the sedimentation of incoming suspended solids in the raw sewage and to improve and automate the discharge of sludge to the sludge plots, a radial settling tank with an integrated coagulation chamber has been in operation since 2019. The new settling tank increased the operational reliability of the treatment plant and created a capacity reserve for the equipment at the treatment plant. It operates as the primary plant of the wastewater sequence. The design capacity ensures the capture and treatment of the inflow up to the nominal size of 3 200 m3/h and has a hydraulic reserve.

In order to reduce water consumption and the amount of sewage discharged to water, the water used at the Bełchatów plant is reused in closed internal circuits and is not discharged to water. The power plant does not have a treatment facility. Used process water is used for slagging and making up losses in the hydro-ash cycle. Sanitary wastewater and rainwater or snowmelt are discharged to the wastewater treatment plant located at the KWB Bełchatów Branch.

At the Rybnik plant, all wastewater from the power station premises is treated in the industrial sewage treatment plant and the flue gas desulphurisation system. The Rybnik plan uses closed water circuits wherever possible. The water taken from the intakes is used in internal processes and only when there is no possibility to use it in the power plant installations, it is discharged as wastewater.

In connection with the need to adapt the treatment plant to the requirements of BAT conclusions, the method of sewage treatment using the modern Nalmet preparation was successfully applied.

Water management in the mining process

Lignite deposit exploitation using the open-pit method, carried out at the Bełchatów and Turów lignite mines, requires prior dewatering of the rock mass, which has a significant impact on hydrogeological conditions and results in changes in hydrodynamic relations.

Water management in lignite mines is connected with both deep dewatering and surface dewatering of open pits. Water from the pits is discharged to field settling ponds for final purification by natural sedimentation of suspended solids supported by a plant filter or to dedicated treatment plants.

Each of the open-pit lignite mines owned by PGE conducts scheduled water protection activities. Drainage facilities to ensure water purity are being expanded and modernised.

Since the beginning of its operation, the Bełchatów mine has been carrying out planned and rational activities in the field of water protection. The dewatering of the rock mass is carried out in order to create such a depression that ensures the safe exploitation of the deposit using the open pit method.

The dewatering system of the KWB Bełchatów mine captures both groundwater and surface water in order to dewater the rock mass to a degree that enables the safe exploitation of lignite from the Szczerców Field and Bełchatów Field.

In order to counteract the environmental impact, the mine is carrying out the following projects to reduce the impact of the dewatering of the deposit on the surroundings:

  • the use of a deep drainage system using large diameter deep wells, which makes it possible to lower the groundwater table while maintaining the safety of the mining works and limiting the amount of water pumped,
  • the use of selective extraction and discharge of pumped water in the pit to reduce the amount of dirty water requiring treatment,
  • the use of a multi-stage treatment system for water discharged from excavation dewatering,
  • maintaining a proper hydrodynamic system in the area of the „Dębina” salt diapir in order to protect its structure,
  • extensive monitoring of the impact of mining activities on the environment, allowing observation of early possible symptoms of deterioration in the condition of a selected environmental element and providing the opportunity to take appropriate preventive measures.

Water from deep drainage is discharged through a system of ditches and canals in quantities and physiochemical parameters that do not exceed the statutory provisions contained in the valid water law permits. Waters discharged into surface watercourses must feature at least class II purity.

In order to protect the water purity of the region’s existing natural watercourses, wastewater management has been solved by the mine’s construction of the following treatment plants:

  • Central Sewage Treatment Plant in Rogowiec – mechanical and biological type. It treats domestic/social and rain-industrial types of wastewater. The treatment plant provides wastewater treatment services for external companies,
  • Sewage treatment plant in Chabielice – mechanical-biological treatment plant. It treats social and domestic sewage from the facilities of O/Szczerców and provides treatment services for the Municipal Facility in Szczerców.

As part of the surface drainage of the heap, the main part of the rainwater goes into retention and sedimentation fields at the foot of the heap. To intercept some of such water, small retention reservoirs are built on the tops of the heap. These reservoirs are part of the surface drainage of the heap. The water collected in them serves to protect the heap from water erosion (collecting water from drainage ditches). It also serves as a watering hole for animals in the emerging new forest ecosystem of the reclaimed dumps. Such reservoirs have been built on the internal dump of the Bełchatów Field and the external dump of the Szczerców Field, as well as on the external dump of the Bełchatów Field (Góra Kamieńsk), which has been recultivated and fully handed over to the Bełchatów Forest District.

In 2022, the Turów mine branch discharged the following to external watercourses: mine water from surface dewatering of the pit, well water and domestic sewage. The quality of well water allows it to be discharged directly into external watercourses.

Mine water and domestic sewage were treated at 5 on-site sewage treatment plants. Mine water treatment plants at the branch are equipped with the Actiflo system – a highly effective process of suspension reduction.

The parameters regarding the quantity and quality of discharged sewage are regulated by the requirements of valid water law permits held by the branch. The quality and quantity of discharged water and sewage are monitored on an ongoing basis.

Water in heat generation and supply

One of the elements of PGE Energia Ciepła's management strategy is to optimise the consumption of raw materials, in particular water, and to reuse, as far as possible, the substances produced that accompany the main production process and precious elements.

At PGE Energia Ciepła, process water is produced using mainly surface water or, in certain places, groundwater. At the Szczecin CHP, internal sea waters are abstracted. All groundwater intakes in operation have established direct water protection zones. Several plants also use water from municipal water supply systems.

Depending on the size of the plant, source and composition of the raw water, different water preparation techniques are used, such as lime decarbonation, filtration, ion exchange, ultrafiltration, reverse osmosis, electrodeionisation.

In each case, the complete water preparation sequence consists of a combination of several of the above techniques.

Depending on technological requirements, water is directed to reception points after various stages of preparation. At each stage of water preparation, particular attention is paid to its rational use. Many of the wastewater streams generated in the course of water preparation are returned to the process for re-use.

Examples include the re-use of filter washings, water recovered from sub-decarbonation sludge, concentrates from reverse osmosis or electrodialysis processes, or regenerated brine from the softening process. Sewage generated in other installations, if their composition permits, is also returned to the process.

  • return of so-called hot sewage as a source for the water preparation process,
  • frequent use of rainwater or drainage water for water production,
  • returning to the desulphurisation process the treated wastewater from the desulphurisation process, if its composition directly depends on the quality of the coal combusted,
  • using part of the domestic sewage, after treatment, as a source of water for closed recharge,
  • on-going work on the cooling system at the Krakow CHP to use treated sewage from the municipal treatment plant as a source of process water,
  • using sewage as a source of water for domestic water systems or for supplementing ash extraction and slagging systems.

In order to adapt installations that have wet flue gas desulphurisation at the following locations: Kraków, Wrocław, Gdańsk and Gdynia, a number of actions have been planned to increase the efficiency of sewage treatment accompanying this treatment method.

The existing flue gas desulphurisation systems are equipped with highly efficient waste water treatment plants; however, due to the requirements related to compliance with BAT conclusions, their operation will be further optimised.

At CHP plant belonging to PGE Energia Ciepła (Wrocław, Gdańsk, Kraków), active work is being carried out on dosing the modern preparation Nalmet, which, together with modernisation works, will optimise the operation of treatment plants at individual locations.

PGE Energia Ciepła with innovative INNUPS technology

Among the stricter requirements of the BAT conclusions in the field of nitrogen and sulphur oxides removal, requirements were introduced concerning the parameters of wastewater from wet flue gas desulphurisation systems.

One of the key parameters are concentrations of metals and metalloids in wastewater. As part of the program of adjustment to the BAT conclusions, a number of projects were implemented, including in the field of water and sewage management a project derived from a research and development project, i.e. implementation of heavy metals capture technology in INNUPS technology.

In 2013-2016, PGE Energia Ciepła developed a technology for treating sewage from wet flue gas desulphurisation systems. The project was implemented as part of the GEKON program, funded by the National Centre for Research and Development and the National Fund for Environmental Protection and Water Management. The technology developed is based on a column system containing ion exchange resins designed to remove metals and metalloids.

The INNUPS treatment installation was commissioned at the Gdynia CHP plant in 2021. Thanks to the new technology, wastewater is treated to a much higher degree than required by current EU regulations. In addition, the installation enables the recovery of marketable metals, such as rare earth metals and precious metals. This is an example of the widest possible re-use of produced anthropogenic minerals and precious elements, in line with PGE Group’s principles of a circular economy. In 2022, the effectiveness of this method was confirmed.


PGE Energia Odnawialna keeps quantitative records of groundwater and surface water abstraction and carries out tests and analyses of discharged wastewater for compliance with the requirements of water rights permits.

Wastewater treatment plants are in operation at individual sites, where operational inspections of separators are carried out by specialised companies and, as required, cleaning, waste collection and disposal are carried out, as well as adsorption filters are replaced.

In order to avoid the risk of harmful substances entering the environment in the form of contamination of water reservoirs with grease and oil from leakage of oil from oil systems due to the failure of hydropower equipment, preventive measures are taken. These consist of continuous monitoring of equipment operation by the power plant staff, regular inspections, carrying out repair, maintenance and modernisation work.

Municipal sewage is discharged in accordance with contracts with municipal companies.

Distribution activities

Activities related to water and wastewater management, including monitoring of the quantity and quality of water abstracted and wastewater discharged, are carried out in PGE Dystrybucja in accordance with the provisions of administrative decisions, in particular water rights permits issued by the relevant authorities.

Sewage generated from production activities is subjected to a treatment process and then discharged to surface waters or transferred to municipal companies, in accordance with the agreements concluded.

PGE Group participation in the CDP international study: climate and water

In July 2022, PGE Group took part in the voluntary CDP survey for the second time, improving its grade from D to C for questions related to climate change and consolidating its position at C, for water management.

CDP is an organisation that operates a global disclosure system for investors, companies, cities and regions to manage their environmental impacts. It is the primary environmental reporting standard and data set for the environmental performance of corporations and cities. The scoring methodology boils down to an eight-point alphabetical scale, starting with an 'A’ and ending with a 'D-’, which shows a company’s level of climate awareness and the degree to which it has implemented measures in its management processes.

Participation in the CDP study has enabled PGE Group to gain new competences that will serve to report even better on non-financial issues in the years to come. As a result, PGE will be able to more easily meet the requirements for mandatory analyses of its activities, in line with EU taxonomy and sustainable reporting standards.

In addition, the parallel implementation of PGE Group’s implemented carbon footprint counting process will enable increased disclosure of the organisation’s climate impact. Irrespective of the information dimension, this will translate into the use of such data within the organisation when defining and implementing PGE Group’s development plans, also in terms of ESG.

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