“Clean Serbia” is key to preserving water sources

“Pollution of water sources endangers drinking water,” Zaklina Zivković and Strahinja Macic, activists of the “Right to Water” initiative, told EURACTIV. According to the data presented by them, it can be concluded that the “Clean Serbia” Project is of crucial importance for the Republic of Serbia.

In Serbia, only 55% of the population is connected to sewage systems. Wastewater treatment plants (where they exist) were mostly built more than 30 years ago and often use outdated technologies. According to the level of construction of sewage infrastructure, Serbia belongs to the group of medium developed countries, while in terms of wastewater treatment it is at the very bottom. Also, a total of 47 cities and municipalities have wastewater treatment plants, of which 26 are in operation (with two under reconstruction and five in trial operation), Mondo reports.
“The key problems of water supply in Serbia are the endangerment of water sources by pollution, the provision of a sufficient amount of healthy drinking water, large losses in the water supply network and the upcoming privatization of utility companies. Serbia does not have enough water, so a million citizens have permanent or occasional access to healthy drinking water. The situation in Vojvodina is perhaps the worst, because groundwater reserves have been overexploited for a long time, and with the increase in depth, their quality also decreases significantly; there is no possibility of restoring them. Groundwater reserves in the valleys of large rivers are significantly threatened by large-scale and almost uncontrolled exploitation of sand and gravel,” Macic explained.
Speaking about the existing reservoirs, Zaklina Zivković states that they are threatened by various factors.
“Existing reservoirs are threatened due to climate change (major droughts and floods), but also due to pollution, illegal construction, failure to take anti-erosion measures on a sufficient scale, wastewater from agriculture, discharge of wastewater into affluents without treatment, inadequate municipal waste management… But the biggest problem is certainly the usurpation of the banks of these reservoirs and what that usurpation entails,” says Zivkovic.
Micic tells EURACTIV that there is no water supply system in Serbia that does not face enormous losses on the network – in Belgrade about 30%, in Kragujevac 42%, in Uzice 54%, and there are even worse examples. The inappropriate treatment of groundwater sources, which are now in good condition,  like Makis in Belgrade, is a concern. The situation in central Serbia with rural water supply systems is particularly bad in terms of management, quality and availability of water and the condition of the infrastructure. Studies on sanitary protection zones are implemented inconsistently or not at all. And local governments do not have enough economic power to rehabilitate the network and reduce losses to a technically and economically acceptable level. In order to overcome these problems, a determined, coordinated and dedicated action on all levels of government is needed,” Micic explained.
The above data indicate that the implementation of the Clean Serbia Project is of key importance for the preservation of water sources. We remind you that the number of inhabitants included in this program is about two and a half million in 69 local government units. The construction of over 5,206,679.31 m of sewage network is planned, and the number of plants is almost half of that required for the whole of Serbia (165 WWTPs).

Preventing environmental incidents

Even though Serbia does not fall into the category of countries with highly developed environmental protection awareness, river pollution incidents always cause a public uproar. The ‘Clean Serbia’ Project is the country’s response in order to preserve the environment in Serbia with special emphasis on the protection of our rivers.

The Serbian public was notified lately that due to the pollution of Raška River caused by fuel oil discharge, charges were pressed.

Two protests were held because of the River Raška pollution, where citizens asked sanctioning of those responsible, prevention of future environmental incidents and notification of the public whether fuel oil discharge in any way affected the health of the people

Implementation of the ‘Clean Serbia’ Project will in fact cover the Raška River. For the City of Novi Pazar the Project plans for the construction of 110,965.00m of sewage network while the population equivalent covered is 160,000.

It is important to emphasize that global and local environmental associations list the construction of wastewater treatment plants, sewage infrastructure by which wastewaters are directed towards aforementioned plants as prerequisite for environmental protection and preservation. Those prerequisites are the main goals of the ‘Clean Serbia’ Project.