Roman Tutskyi from Ukraine is the Head of the Basin Department of Water Resources of Zakhidnyi Buh and Sian Rivers. His journey as a River Hero started in 2022 when he kicked off the dam removal movement in the river network of the Lviv region. The future is bright for Roman as he is working to restore the connectivity of the Krasnosilka River by removing seven barriers! Read the full interview to find out more about this River Hero and his future projects in Ukraine.
Welcome Roman! What do you do for a living?
[Roman] I am the Head of the Basin Department of Water Resources of Zakhidnyi Buh and Sian Rivers.
How did you find out that river barriers can be removed?
[Roman] I found out about barrier removals when I saw the news about the revitalization of the Yagorlyk River in the Odesa region. This inspired me to do the same in the Lviv region which has a high–density river network. Many rivers were regulated in the second half of the 20thcentury due to the reclamation processes, and there are many hydrological structures on Ukrainian rivers, hindering the free flow and preventing river connectivity. As an employee of the Basin Department of Water Resources of the Zakhidnyi Buh and the Sian Rivers, I am well–oriented towards river reclamation processes in our country. Also, I like nature and I am constantly trying to find possibilities to improve the ecological situation in my region.
When did you decide that you also wanted to free rivers? What did you do and where did you go? How did you start on dam removal?
[Roman] I found out about Dam Removal Europe in 2022, and I was captivated by their mission. I contacted the DRE Team by email and started the dam removal movement in Ukraine. These days, our team is working on applications for the Open River Programme. We would like to investigate all obstacles in the Zakhidnyi Buh River Basin to understand what we need for further removals and which problems we could face on theway. Our goal is to remove most of the obsolete barriers in our river basin.
Since you started your efforts to remove barriers in your home river, what activities have you been doing?
[Roman] As a member of the Basin Department, subordinated to the national water agency, we understand the dam situation in our country. It is very hard to receive permission for obstacle removals. We need independent conclusions and recommendations for the removal as well as financial support. We are intensively working on mapping river obstacles, gathering information, and analyzing the use of dams.
What is the proudest moment in your efforts to remove a barrier?
[Roman] We are very proud that we were the first ones who started the dam removal movement in our region – nobody had done it before! We are happy that we have brought to life the project “Restoration of the Small River Ecosystem – a Path to Promising Community Development and the Well-Being of the Local Population”, together with the NGO “Synergy”.
The project was implemented with the financial support of the Embassy of Sweden in Ukraine, and it was carried out within the framework of the «INSURE: moving Nature-based climate solutions into Ukraine’s Reform Agenda» from the PU «WWF-Ukraine». The aim was to create an inventory of hydrological barriers on the Krasnosilka River (Krasnosilka is a left tributary of the river Zakhidnyi Buh which is transboundary). In this way, we developed a blueprint for river restoration bringing streams to a more natural state; In particular, we concentrated on the restoration of free-flowing rivers by removing dams and on the regulation of water protection areas and the coastal protective strip. We determined the location of 24 artificial obstacles – 7 of them need to be removed and 17 of them need to be reconstructed.
Do you have a take-home message for dam removal project managers and facilitators?
[Roman] Not yet, as we have just started working in this direction.
What advice would you give to future river heroes of the younger generation?
[Roman] To be persistent, move ahead even if the task looks very hard. Work on your mission by setting progressive goals! If you want to be successful with dam removals, you should work with an effective NGO focused on ecological restoration which has a good reputation.