The Lviv Poltva

On November 19-20 2010, the Center for Urban History held an international conference and seminar for scholars and practitioners: "The Lviv Poltva: Conditions and Perspectives."

The first day of the conference highlighted the history and socio-cultural and technical aspects of the condition of the Poltva river, and also gave participants an opportunity to hear first-hand from experts on similar cases in Dresden and Leipzig.

During the seminar the following day, participants worked on articulating the potential of the Poltva for Lviv. They were given an opportunity to develop and present their ideas about the future of the Poltva, and methods for realizing the river's social, economic, ecological, and cultural potential.

Three groups of participants worked out visions for revitalizing the Poltva. The first team proposed cleaning the Poltva's tributaries, beginning from the Lviv apiaries and the Iron Water Park. This would encourage Lviv's citizens to realize that a river flows right beneath their very feet. This team suggested bringing youth and school students into the project, and organizing a competition of children's drawings entitled, "What would Lviv look like, if Lviv had a river?" The second step would be to organize and restore the fountain on Kopernika Street and to clean the water sources. The idea would be to popularize this experience in other regions of the city. The third step would be to organize a "Festival of the River," including marking the course of the Poltva and a boat excursion through the underground Poltva. The slogan of the festival would be "Refresh Lviv."

The second team proposed to first articulate the problem of the "prisoner" river among Lviv citizens, and then to separate the sewerage from the river, to clean the waterways that seep into the river, and to mark out the course of the river in contemporary Lviv on buildings and streets.

The third team noted that the Poltva river should first be marked on maps of Lviv and returned to the cadastre map of Ukraine's rivers, and they proposed carrying out an inventory of the river's streams and tributaries in Lviv. Students of all ages could participate in this project, which would organize this water stream and increase the green space in the city. Indeed, the quality of public space very much improves the quality of life.

The conference and seminar were planned on the initiative of the Museum of Ideas, a Lviv public organization under the structure of the project "LeoPoltwis," which began in 2008 and aims to save the river Poltva as a space of cultural and social life of the city.

The organizers of the conference and seminar were the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ), which works on developing the city and renovating the old city center, and the Center for Urban History.