A Major Step Forward Towards a Clean Vrbas

Apr 15, 2014

"Now that pollution sites are mapped we can take concrete steps”, says Sušić Huso, Mayor of the Municipality Donji Vakuf

Within the UNDP project "Clean Vrbas", the Center for Climatic Research in Banja Luka recorded all locations on the river Vrbas  and created a map documenting sources of pollution of the river. The aim of mapping pollution and developing a database of pollutants is to aid local authorities and citizens in the removal of illegal dumps and preventing spillage of waste water into the river Vrbas and improving environmental quality.

"This is the first study of pollutants of an entire river in Bosnia and Herzegovina and the region, as well as the first time a mapping of all points of pollution of the river has been conducted. All locations of pollution are accurately recorded so that the municipalities can define specific activities to protect the river and its banks. For several years now, through the framework of "Clean Vrbas," UNDP has protected the river Vrbas as a natural resource with a large and unused tourist and economic potential, "said Goran Vukmir, Head of the UNDP Regional Office in Banja Luka.

A team of experts from the Center for Climatic Research in Banja Luka covered the entire 235 km course of the river Vrbas, from the source in the mountain Vranica to the mouth of the river. 307 locations/sources of pollution were registered, of which 115 are identified as illegal dumps. The level of pollution, as well as the density and concentration of certain pollutants, was also measured.

"On the basis of data from the field, we have created a unique database that can integrate with all GIS systems. This database provides a clear view on pollution which will allow municipalities and utility companies to address sources of pollution. It also identifies critical zones and encourages municipalities to  act preventively. Within the framework of this project, eight maps identifying locations of pollutants at the municipality level were created. All municipalities in the area of Vrbas received the results of the research and passed through a short training for the implementation of a GIS database" said Davorin Bajić from the Center for Climatic Research Banja Luka.

”Now when we have the pollution points mapped, we will take concrete steps and eliminate all illegal depots, especially as we are approaching a fly-fishing championship. This year we have to eliminate all the depots in our municipality; while there are not many, contaminants still exist,” said Sušić Huso, Mayor of the Municipality Donji Vakuf.

"The Municipality Jajce has a huge problem when it comes to water pollution, waste collection and disposal, as well as the work of utility companies. So far, we have not done enough work and a much of it is in the implementation phase. We are, however, working towards the construction of a sewage facility for the large area of the city. When it comes to waste disposal, the problem arises because we do not collect waste from the entire area of the municipality and we have no place to store the waste,” said Edin Hozan, mayor of Jajce.

"The river Vrbanja does not currently have any industrial pollution, but we have a problem of pollution and illegal waste dumps, as well as problems concerning our municipal utility company, which was in a very poor condition and which we have recently repaired and brought to working condition. We will now commit to creating opportunities for citizens to dispose their trash in designated locations. I hope that we will soon begin with the construction of a recycling yard to sort waste and capitalize on the economic benefit from the reusable waste," said Dalibor Vučanović, Mayor of Kotor Varoš.

The report documenting the results of the project "Creation of a GIS database and mapping pollutants in Vrbas River flow" and all the data collected is available to the public via the following link: http://gis.pmfbl.org/vrbas/desktop/ccr/examples/geoportal/index.html

The UNDP’s project "Clean Vrbas" is worth 1.3 million BAM and is funded jointly by the Government of Japan and the municipalities of river Vrbas basin, in partnership with companies Coca Cola and Eco Pak Ltd. The project is based on a public private partnership and involves 13 municipalities surrounding the river Vrbas basin, the responsible entity and cantonal ministries and agencies, as well as private companies. All partners aim to prevent pollution of the river and its banks, to develop the economy and to create jobs in local communities.