The National Assembly House hosted a public hearing on the “Status of waters in Serbia” organized by the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee.
Marijan Risticevic, Chairman of the Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management Committee, opened the public hearing saying that this was a sadly neglected topic which he hopes would be rectified in the future. Fresh water makes up only 3.4% of all the water on the planet which means we have to be more careful about it as it is the source of potable water, water for irrigation and other uses. The Committee Chairman took the opportunity to thank MP Nada Lazic, Committee member, who was the most vocal in calling for the public hearing on the topic of waters, as well as UNDP which has been supporting the work of the National Assembly for years.
Nada Lazic said that water, its status and condition, is a multi-departmental issue depending on approach, e.g. wastewater, water protection, anti-flood protection, which is why representatives of the ministries, local self-governments and public experts had been invited to the hearing.
Natasa Milic, Head of the Water Directorate, explained the status of waters in Serbia in great detail. She spoke of the Republic of Serbia 2016-2034 Water Management Strategy as the umbrella document setting a long-term water management policy concerning water use, protection, watercourse management and protection against negative effects. Milic said that the objective of the Strategy is to improve internal water management i.e. institute a uniform water regime on the entire territory of the Republic of Serbia and provide water management that achieves the best economic and social effects in a just manner, with due understanding for the need to protect and improve natural ecosystems and comply with international agreements.
Nebojsa Veljkovic of the Environmental Protection Agency spoke about the quality of surface water and sediment based on the monitoring conducted by the Agency on the quality of rivers downstream from city wastewater based on the results of the analyses submitted by public utility companies. Veljkovic spoke of the watercourses with the best and worst quality, stressing that Vojvodina has the most polluted watercourses, while east and south-east Serbia has watercourses with the best clarity index which are rivers with the lowest capacity mostly untouched by the human factor. Veljkovic also spoke about dangerous substances in surface water and sediment.
Nada Lazic was concerned about the funding for water protection since the seven billion dinars allocated from the environmental protection funds annually are insufficient for water management on the territory of Serbia. The key aspects in the matter are managing regular financing, the use of European funds and knowledge, and expert experience.
This was followed by presentations by the Institute for the Development of Water Resources “Jaroslav Cerni” and professor Ratko Ristic of the Belgrade Faculty of Forestry.
The public hearing was moderated by Committee Deputy Chairman Arpad Fremond.
The keyword addresses and presentations were followed by a discussion between the MPs, public experts and representatives of local-self-government.