Freshwater (Serbia )
The state and impacts
Generally, Nitrate in rivers has no significant trend. There is no plan related to water pollution protection. There is a problem of loss in the water supply system ranging from 30% to 50%. There are no basic conditions for successful application of irrigation. The projections for climate change suggest a negative influence on the water balance of Serbia.
Water quality (Nitrate in Rivers and Lakes)
Evaluation of the status (state of the environment) and description of the trends
The state of river water quality is shown using the nitrate indicator.
The analysis included 6 497 water samples from 52 measurement sites for the control of water quality in rivers, sampled on average once a month from 1999-2008. The trend was established by using the Mann-Kendall test, statistically significant at p < 0.05 (Figures 1, 2 and 3).
Nitrate concentrations in the northern part of Serbia – Vojvodina – are decreasing. The highest concentrations are found In the central part of the country but the trends there show little change. The highest water quality is in the mountains of western Serbia in the catchment of the Drina river (Figure 3).
The state of lake water quality is also shown using the nitrate indicator.
The analysis included 298 water samples, from 74-76 measurement sites located at 31 lakes. They were sampled once a year from 2005-2008.
Water from the territory of Serbia flows towards the Black, Adriatic Sea and Aegean Seas. The Black Sea Basin is dominant – around 176 billion m3 of water a year, 93 % of the total. Around 2 billion m3 per year run off towards the Adriatic, and around 0.5 billion m3 towards the Aegean. The total inflow of water, excluding precipitation, is about 162.5 billion m3 per year, and the total outflow around 178 5 billion m3. Inland (domestic) water runoff is around 16 billion m3 a year.
Domestic availability of around 1 800 m3 per person per year is insufficient due to unequal spatial and time distribution, as well as to differences in the quality of most domestic waters. The most populated lowland, with the richest land resources, is the poorest in water, while high quality water resources are mostly located along the country’s perimeter.
Source: Water management basis of the Republic of Serbia, 2001.
FRESHWATER ABSTRACTION AND DEMAND
In 2008, a total of 4.000 million m3 of water was abstracted for population, industry and crafts, agriculture, the energy sector and commercial users (Figure 7).
The total demand for water in 2021 is estimated at 4.900 million m3 . This has been determined on the basis of the number of inhabitants, the rate of connection to the water systems and estimated citizen consumption. The total demand includes the needs of population, foodstuffs industry and tourism for drinking water, as well as the needs of the rest of industry for lower quality water , Figure 8.
Source: Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia (SORS), 2009.
Water Management Basis of the Republic of Serbia, 2001.
About 59 % of drinking water comes from groundwater, 17 % from springs, and 24 % from surface sources. In total, about 27 m3/second is extracted for the public drinking water supply. Industries use about 30 % of public water. About 77 % of the population has access to the public drinking water supply.
The average loss in the water supply system is about 30 %, although, 2 8% of the evaluated municipalities reported losses of between 30 % and 50 %. Municipalities are responsible for 42 % of total losses. Only 11% of the municipalities estimated less than 10 % of water loss while most have losses of between 20 % and 30 %, amounting to 54 % of the total water losses – Belgrade dominates, with 34 % of the total losses. Average domestic drinking water consumption, which includes small commercial enterprises, is 170 l/person/day.
Source: (1) Global wastewater Study in Serbia, The European Union's CARDS programme, 2004.
(2) The National Strategy of Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Goods of the Republic of Serbia. Working group for water resources. The Republic Water Directorate, 2007.
Fees only cover operation and maintenance costs, including staff costs. Public utility companies are responsible for the calculation of fees, which have to be approved by the municipal authority.
The total fee in 2009 for water and sewerage is €0.34 per m3 for domestic consumers and €0.98 per m3 for industrial consumers (Figures 9 and 10).
Water meters are not calibrated regularly or replaced as often as needed. They are often missing or deliberately removed or destroyed. There is also a problem with illegal connections to the network. There are therefore large discrepancies between produced and billed water quantities. In view of this, the responsible public utility company cannot operate in a proper manner. Many consumers are notorious for paying their bills late and only 40-80 % of bills are ever paid.
Source: (1) Serbian Chamber of Commerce, Association of Communal Services, 2009.
(2) Commercial Association of Waterworks and Sewerage of Serbia, 2009.
Edited by: Environmental Protection Agency
Out of a total of 4 867 million ha of arable land only 2.6 % is equipped with irrigation devices, of which only 16.6 % is irrigated, with considerably varying annual consumption (Figure 11).
A projection of irrigation development in the light of water demand has been made for 2015 and 2030, including existing and new irrigation systems, Figure 12. By 2030, more than 270 000 ha will be covered by the systems, which will use 678 million m3 of water a year.
Source: (1) Statistical Office of the Republic of Serbia (SORS)
(2) The National Strategy of Sustainable Use of Natural Resources and Goods of the Republic of Serbia. Working group for water resources, Republic Water Directorate, 2007.
CONSUMPTION OF WATER BY THE THERMAL ENERGY COMPLEX
Consumption of running water for cooling purposes by the thermal energy complex is the most significant use of water, the needs for which are continually growing. It is estimated that the demand of this industrial complex in 2020 will amount to 4 000 million m3 a year (Figure 13).
SOURCE: WATER MANAGEMENT BASIS OF THE REPUBLIC OF SERBIA, 2001.
THE MAIN CLIMATE ELEMENTS AND WATER BALANCE
An assessment of the main climate elements in the territory of Serbia has been made in terms of changes in annual air temperature and precipitation for1951-2008, compared with the average figures for the period 1961-1990.
An increase in air temperature is seen in almost the entire territory of Serbia. The spatial distribution of the increases is shown in Figure 14.
The spatial distribution of changes in annual precipitation for 1951-2008 relative to 1961-1990 average is shown in Figure 15. The analysis shows that annual precipitation is decreasing in eastern and southeastern Serbia.
Projections based on climate modelling, assuming moderate scenarios, are that annual temperatures in Serbia will increase by 2.6oC by the end of this century. The changes in the precipitation regime are more complex and suggest a decrease 3-10 mm per month.
Source: Environmental Protection Agency, (T. Popovic, 2009, 2005)
Further national information
The key drivers and pressures
Pressures - Water in Serbia
Indicator on pressure
Evaluation of pressures
In the Republic of Serbia around 75 % of the urban population, but only 9 % of the rural population, are connected to the public sewerage system. The total amount of connection exceeds 75 % only in 2 % of municipalities, while in 10 % of municipalities it ranges between 50 % and 75 %. Around 7 227 km of sewerage system have been built, and the specific length of the system per connected citizen is around 2.3 m. Around 65 % of sewerage systems were built between 1971 and 1990.
There is a Wastewater Treatment Plant (WWTP) in only 13 % of municipalities. The rate of population connected to WWTP is 11.5 %, on the primary treatement 4 % and on the secondary treatement 7.5 %.
Industrial facilities located in urban areas release wastewater mostly to urban sewerage systems, usually without pre-treatment. Larger industrial facilities that are located outside urban areas, usually on river banks or in their immediate surroundings, also release their wastewaters directly into water courses without previous treatment.
The Republic of Serbia has 5 093 192 ha of agricultural land – 57.6 % of its total surface.
There are no reliable data on the use of fertilisers. According to the statistical data, the production of inorganic fertilisers has fallen (Figure 2).
- "Global Waste Water Study in Serbia", The EU's CARDS Programme, European Agency for Reconstruction, 2004 ;
- Water Directorate of the Republic of Serbia, 2010.
- Serbian Environmental Protection Agency, 2008.
Existing and planned responses
Policy context and solution and actions taken by the country
The weakest part of the water protection system in Serbia is the application of legal regulations for wastewater treatment.
An analysis of the funds required for the construction of WWTPs has been made on the basis of an approximate estimate of total organic load from settlements of 2 000 or more people.
The settlements have been divided into groups according to the population equivalent (PE): 219 towns with 2 000 - 5000 , 115 with 5 000-10 000, 32 with 10 000-15 000, 37 with 15 000-50 000, 23 with 50 000-150 000 and 4 with more than 150 000 PE. The total estimated cost of design, construction and trial operation of these WWTPs is around €1 billion.
Serbia has carried out initial steps in the implementation of the EU Nitrate Directive in order to protect waters identified as sensitive to pollution from agricultural sources.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management is implementing the Serbia Danube River Enterprise Pollution Reduction Project (DREPR), which is financed under the Global Environment Facility-World Bank Investment Fund for Nutrient Reduction in the Black Sea/Danube Basin and an agreement for donation with the Swedish government for co-financing the project. As part of the project in 2010, a study was prepared for implementation of the Nitrate Directive – Preparation of a Draft Strategy and Action Plan for adoption and implementation of the Nitrate Directive for Serbia and proposal for its transposing into local legislation.
Source: Water Directorate of the Republic of Serbia, 2007;
Serbian Environmental Protection Agency, 2008.
For references, please go to www.eea.europa.eu/soer or scan the QR code.
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