Presentation of IWA Groundwater Specialist Conference 8-10 September 2011, Belgrade, Serbia - page 8


Samek (2011) presents the current status of groundwater management in Austria. Austria is a country with an abundant availability of water, only a small proportion of which is used. The country is part of three international River Basin Districts, with the main part (96%) located in the Danube River Basin. The country's fundamental objective of water management is its protection and sustainable use. EU water legislation, in particular the Water Framework Directive (WFD) and the Austrian Water Act with its linked ordinances, create the legal framework for this.

The main instrument for water management is the Austrian Water Act, which regulates the use and protection of water resources. The Water Act generally requires that water uses must be permitted. Within the frame of the Austrian Water Act, a number of ordinances concerned with groundwater management have been enacted. These regulations establish, in particular, requirements of monitoring and protection of groundwater as well as the stipulation of quality threshold values.

For the implementation of the WFD it was necessary to divide Austrian territory into eight planning units, which are assigned to the three international River Basin Districts. For the delineation of these planning units only hydrological criteria were taken into account, irrespective of national borders. Water management in these planning units must be carried out in a coordinated manner by the public administrations in the concerned federal states.

The first National Water Resource Management Plan represents a comprehensive planning instrument for the regime of water management in Austria. The programme of measures is based on already existing instruments and measures. Therefore, the programme represents a target-oriented extension of strategies for qualitative and quantitative groundwater protection in Austria. This concerns especially the sustainable reduction of the impact on groundwater due to nitrate. The Plan is a further important step toward a comprehensive and sustainable groundwater protection policy in Austria.

Dimkić et al. (2011c) presented the groundwater status in Serbia. The country is relatively rich in groundwater reserves, deposited in different aquifer systems, however, unevenly distributed across the territory. The major groundwater reserves are accumulated in thick Quaternary and Neogene intergranular aquifers. Alluvial aquifers of large rivers (the Danube, Sava, Velika Morava and Drina) are particularly important and widely used for drinking water supply. Karstic aquifers dominate the south-western and eastern regions of Serbia. Precipitation, watercourses, and groundwater provide Serbia with quite a favourable water regime. Although Serbia is one of the largest food producers in the Balkans, only some 1-2% of its arable land is irrigated. Water deficiencies are found in the south of Serbia, as well as in a central region of Serbia, Šumadija.

Most resources deliver a good natural groundwater quality. The main exception is the northern province of Vojvodina. This province is part of a large flat depression of the Pannonian Basin, with very thick Quaternary and Neogene sediments and sub-artesian aquifers. Organic material has been deposited in the natural sediments, and groundwater is frequently loaded with organic substances, ammonia, and occasionally also arsenic or boron. Roughly 90% of the population has access to the public water supply.

Furthermore, some 75% of water for public water supply is abstracted from groundwater resources. In some areas, currently tapped resources are unable to quantitatively meet the population's water demand. However, there are other considerable groundwater resources especially in the alluvia of large rivers or in karstic aquifers which are still under-exploited. Artificial recharge is also not used to a large extent: only about 1 m3/s of water is delivered by such sources, which is less than 5% of the estimated potential. There is the need to upgrade protection of groundwater resources. Additionally, large undertakings are required to improve river water quality, since rivers are a precious natural resource and a source of alluvial aquifer recharge. Maintenance of water sources and water supply systems will also have to be improved.

Groundwater is a traditional water supply resource. Based on available data, more than 1000 water sources have been developed in Serbia, including tapped springs. Surface water is used to a significant extent mostly in the southern part of Serbia, from river reservoirs which equalise discharge fluctuations in this relatively water-scarce region. Also, almost 3 m3/s of total water consumption of the City of Belgrade is from the surface water resource of the Sava River, planned to be expanded up to 5 m3/s in the near future. Based on the Water Master Plan of Serbia, the total yield of active groundwater sources is roughly estimated at 23 m3/s.

In addition to natural groundwater potential, extra amounts of groundwater can be obtained through artificial recharge methods, from water sources developed in alluvial plains and by controlling karstic springs. According to the Water Master Plan of Serbia and based on current information, artificial recharge (AR) can provide an additional 40 m3/s of water; added to amounts extractable without the use of AR, the total is approximately 107 m3/s. The other main aquifer system successfully regulated at several locations is karstic. Widespread karstic areas, abundant reserves, and excellent quality of karst groundwater have been the reasons for its extensive use in water supply systems throughout the country. In total, 70 karstic sources have been tapped for public water supply, with the estimated minimal capacity exceeding 4.5 m3/s. Groundwater quality is being systematically monitored through an alluvial aquifer monitoring network.

By adopting the Water Law in 2010, Serbia fully accepted the standards, terminology and goals declared in the WFD. A set of bylaws have been drafted, among them the Code on the Designation of Surface Water and Groundwater Bodies. At present, groundwater resources are monitored at several levels: national level, municipal (town) level, and water supply source level, as well as in a portion of the riparian lands of the Danube, Sava, and Tisa rivers which are within the reservoir zone of the Iron Gate Dam.