Estonia has an area of 45,227 km2. The country is mostly flat, with many islands. There are 1.3 million people, of which about 70% are Estonians and 26% Russians. About 70% of people live in cities.
Estonian groundwater is mostly replenished by precipitation (rainfall is 670 mm per year). Annual average surface runoff is 12 billion m3 and the groundwater potential is 3.2 billion m3. Rivers are characterized by short flow distances within small catchment areas and low flow rates. Only 10 rivers are longer than 100 km.
Out of Estonia’s approximately 1,200 lakes (about 5% of the territory), half have a surface area of less than 0.03 km2. The largest, Lake Peipsi, covering some 3,500 km2, is the fourth largest lake in Europe.
Water extraction in Estonia was 1,800 million cubic metres of water, of which 1,450 million m3 was surface water and 350 million m3 groundwater.
The biggest water consumer is power production (about 88% of the total water extraction), which pumps water out of the oil shale mines and uses water also for cooling of thermal power plants. Industrial and domestic water consuption form about 3% of the total water consumption in Estonia.
Domestic water consumption in Estonia is 90 litres per capita per day. Currently around 80% of inhabitants obtain their water from the public water supply.
There were 730 wastewater treatment plants in Estonia in 2010, including six over 100,000 PE (population equivalents), 12 over 10,000 PE and 31 with 2,000-10,000 PE.
Total phosphorus and nitrogen point source load discharged into the recipient water bodies were 146 and 1,880 tons, respectively. Direct discharges to the coastal waters formed 55-60% of the total load of nitrogen and phosphorus. The rest was discharged to inland water-bodies, mostly to rivers.