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The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe



Press Release

4 Sava countries to develop first ever Sava protection plan
(March 28, 2006. Vienna, Austria)

The four countries sharing the Sava River and its basin have agreed to develop the first ever plan for the protection of their joint water resources and Sava environment, the UNDP-GEF Danube Regional Project (DRP) announced today.

The agreement means that Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia and Montenegro and Slovenia will jointly develop a 'Sava River Basin Management Plan (RBMP)'. The Plan will include an assessment of the Sava River Basin environment and human pressures impacting on it. It will also include key trans-boundary issues shared by the countries and measures geared to solving joint environmental problems.

One potential trans-boundary issue could be pollution from agriculture, municipal wastewater and industry. So too may be alterations to the river from past and planned hydropower dams on the Sava, Vrbas and Drina rivers and dykes for flood control. Future development of navigation along the Sava may be another sensitive issue.

Measures to improve problems could include the building of new municipal wastewater treatment facilities, reducing the volume of fertilizers applied by farmers, and restoring wetlands. 

"The DRP is helping the countries to start development of the Sava Plan," said DRP Technical Specialist Peter Whalley. "There will be some difficult questions ahead in terms of agreeing on trans-boundary environmental issues and solutions."  

DRP assistance goes until 2007 in partnership with the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River (ICPDR). With its Secretariat in Vienna, the ICPDR coordinates all water management in the Danube basin and selected the Sava as one of four pilot regions. The ICPDR will continue to guide Sava plan completion by 2009 - the deadline by which the EU obliges countries to develop national and basin-wide plans to ensure the good quality of their waters by 2015.

The Sava river (foreground) flows towards
the centre of Belgrade where it confluences with the Danube
credit: Coca-Cola HBC/Fallander

All four Sava countries agreed to develop the Plan to meet the objectives of EU water protection law, namely the Water Framework Directive (WFD). They also agreed to develop separate national assessments of the waters within their countries. EU Member State Slovenia fulfilled its WFD obligation to develop a national report in 2005. Croatia may be obliged to as part of accession negotiations expected soon with the EU. Serbia and Montenegro, and Bosnia and Herzegovina, volunteered.

Plan development will be made in close cooperation with the Sava River Protection Commission created in July 2005. The new Commission's newly created Expert Group on River Basin Management is steering the Plan development and will directly benefit from the DRP assistance.

For more information: Paul Csagoly, paul.csagoly@unvienna.org ,
(tel) +43 1 26060 4722, (mob) +43 664 561 2192 , www.undp-drp.org

To learn more about DRP activities in the Sava River Basin
Sava River Basin Management Plan