A five-day-expedition into the Serbian wilderness
In mid-September, a team of 20 German and Serbian experts travelled throughout Serbia. Their mission: biological monitoring of Serbian waters. Their challenge: finding out different water qualities at different locations.
„We are investigating several streams and rivers. In the mountains it is interesting to see some near-natural streams. We have also seen some other situations with degraded streams. We are trying to find out the difference between the natural streams and the degraded streams“, said Mario Sommerhäuser, component leader of the EU-Twinning Project “Support to policy planning in water management sector”.
Crni Rzav (Black River),
near natural site
Crni Rzav (Black River),
channelized and fixed site
Biological treasures: Crayfish and Stone-flies
Sommerhäuser explained the method of “multi-habitat sampling“ at the Black Rzav: „Sampling and measuring at the first site, we have seen that the stream is very natural. We have a good biocoenosis – fish, stone-flies, indicators of sufficient oxygen and colder water – according to the expectations as a biologist. On the other hand, in the downstream section which is fixed and engineered, the biocoenosis is really reduced. There, the water-quality is worse, with stagnant, warm water and less oxygen.“
The experts were happy to see that in some near natural waters they found biological treasures such as Ephemera danica, Nenmoura, Heptagenia, Potamophylax. The highlight was to discover that even the stone crayfish live in the Zlošnica River.
Biological monitoring is the core of EU-wide status assessment
The field trip helped to gather comprehensive scientific information and to strengthen cooperation among the Serbian and German experts, working together and exchanging methods on the spot.
„We do some investigations on the species living in the Serbian waters – fish and macroinvertebrates – and also on the chemical quality. Finally we check the structure, i.e. the hydromorphology“, stated Sommerhäuser. The experts looked at the natural structure of the stream. They examined if there are riffles and pools, wood, stones and trees. A great variety of different structures indicates near-natural conditions.
German expert Prof. Benno Kügel from Ingolstadt and Serbian Expert Dr. Momir Paunović from Belgrade demonstrated ‘kick sampling’ on a river site
Getting an overview on different Serbian waters
The international team travelled to the Dinaric Alps. Beside the Black River, the team monitored water bodies in the region of Zlatar mountain – like Uvac Reservoire and smaller streams like Radovina and Zlošnica Rivers.
As the experts found out, there are different water qualities and conditions depending on the site. With special methods, they examined the chemistry, biology and hydromorphology of the different water bodies.
In the second half of the trip, the experts travelled to the Northern part of Serbia and monitored rivers like the Tisza and several other water bodies in Vojvodina.
The EU Twinning Project “Support to policy planning in water management sector”
European rivers should be clean in a good, near-natural structure. That is why the Twinning Project “Support to policy planning in water management sector” aims at achieving a ‘good ecological status’ throughout Serbia according to the new ´River Basin Management Plan´. This plan has to be set up for the period of 2021-2027. Twinning is the most important form of pre-accession assistance for institutional capacity building.
The River Basin Management Plan
As the ecological status is currently not assessed on a regular basis, the field trip was a first step to provide detailed information through water monitoring in Serbia. The project wants to strengthen the capacities of the Republic Water Directorate, PWMC “Srbijavode” and PWMC “Vode Vojvodine”. The guidelines are the principles of integrated water management deriving from the EU Water Framework Directive. The River Basin Management Plan was established by the European Commission.