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You are here: Home / The European environment – state and outlook 2010 / Country assessments / Montenegro / Freshwater - Why care? (Montenegro)

Freshwater - Why care? (Montenegro)

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SOER Common environmental theme from Montenegro
Published: 26 Nov 2010 Modified: 22 Dec 2010

The rapid and significant increase in Earth’s population and the subsequent need for water and food are factors of universal concern for water conservation. Drinking water is necessary for human life,  health and well-being.

The United Nations declared the period 2005–2015 as International Water Decade. Worldwide demand for drinking water doubles every 20 years due to the increase in population and incomes. However, the effects of pollution and climate change reduce supplies of drinking water to a similar extent.

With an average outflow of 40 l/sec/ km2 (or 19.5 km³/year) Montenegro ranks among the top 4 % of countries with the highest average outflow. Given that at least 95.3 % of Montenegro’s waterways originate in its territory, it is safe to say that water is the country’s greatest natural resources. One method that can give an objective picture of relative water wealth is the Water Competition Index which measures the amount of water available in a country as a function of population (quantity of water divided by number of persons with access to a unit volume of water).

Using this criterion, 30 425 m³/year is available to each citizen of Montenegro, which makes Montenegro one of the wealthiest countries in Europe in terms of water. Of course, these quantities are absolute. While water management considerations for specific purposes require appropriate quality, planning costs must take account of the spatial allocation of resources and time non-linearity of the natural flow of water.

At first sight Montenegro appears to have a large quantity of water available. However, although the country records high levels of precipitation, a large part of its territory (Orijen, Lovćen, Rumija and Katunska nahija) does not have enough water because it is lost in the underground karst [1].

Despite the apparent abundance of water, around 35 % of Montenegrin territory suffers from a chronic lack of water, which can only be solved by means of expensive hydraulic procedures. Around 10 % of the territory has a problem with seasonal surplus water.

The problem is caused by an inadequate infrastructure in terms of water supply. As a consequence of climatic conditions, the uncontrolled use of water, huge losses in the water supply system and inadequate infrastructure, water consumption is double that in western Europe. Moreover, there is insufficient provision for drinking water in the coastal region during the tourist season.

The uncontrolled use and pollution of water in Montenegro is harmful for its people and the natural environment. The conservation of water as a precious natural resource is the basis for a coordinated development strategy for Montenegro as an ecological state. It is also vital to respect the water, ecology and natural resources of Montenegro as irreplaceable conditions for life in the conduct of economic activity. Pollution prevention measures must be applied to ensure that water remains clean and human health, animal and plant life are protected.

[1] terrain usually characterized by barren, rocky ground, caves, sinkholes, underground rivers, and the absence of surface streams and lakes. It results from the excavating effects of underground water on massive soluble limestone.

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