Romania Table of Contents
Along with an abundance of fertile soil, Romanian agriculture benefits from a temperate climate and generally adequate precipitation. The growing season is relatively long--from 180 to 210 days. Rainfall averages 637 millimeters per year, ranging from less than 400 millimeters in Dobruja (see Glossary) and the Danube Delta to over 1,010 millimeters in the mountains. In the main grain-growing regions, annual precipitation averages about 508 to 584 millimeters. Droughts occur periodically and can cause major agricultural losses despite extensive irrigation. The drought of 1985 was particularly damaging.
Despite relatively generous annual precipitation and the presence of numerous streams and rivers in its territory, including the lower course of the Danube, which discharges some 285,000 cubic feet of water per minute into the Black Sea, Romania experienced chronic water shortages throughout the 1980s. Water consumption had increased by over thirteen times during the preceding three decades, taxing reserves to the limit. The 1990 official forecast envisioned consumption of 35 billion cubic meters, very close to nominal reservoir capacity. Large-scale agriculture and heavy industry were the major water users and polluters. Personal consumption was restricted by the growing scarcity of unpolluted drinking water, which could be obtained from fewer than 20 percent of the major streams.
The Danube and rivers emanating from the Transylvanian Alps and the Carpathians represent an aggregate hydroelectric potential of 83,450 megawatts. Roughly 4,400 megawatts of this potential had been harnessed by the mid-1980s--mostly during the preceding two decades. Important hydroelectric stations were built on the Danube, Arges, Bistrita, Mare, Olt, Buzau, and Prut rivers (see fig. 3). These stations generated roughly 16 percent of Romania's electricity in 1984. But chronically low reservoir levels in the 1980s, caused by prolonged drought and irrigation's increasing demand for water, severely limited the contribution of hydroelectric power to the national energy balance (see Energy , this ch.).
The country's water resources also were an increasingly important transportation medium. The government invested billions of lei in the 1970s and 1980s to develop inland waterways and marine ports. The Danube-Black Sea Canal, opened to traffic in 1984, was the largest and most expensive engineering project in Romanian history. Major investments were made to modernize and expand both inland and marine ports, especially Constanta and the new adjacent facility at Agigea, built at the entrance to the Danube-Black Sea Canal. Another important project--still under construction in the late 1980s--was a seventy-two-kilometer canal linking the capital city, Bucharest, with the Danube (see Inland Waterways; Maritime Navigation , this ch.).
Data as of July 1989