The Effect of Hydrological and Anthropogenic Factors on the Chemical Properties of Water in the Canal Network of Southeastern Srem

Sava Petković1, Enike Gregorić1, Branka Žarković1, Ivan Gržetić2, Vesna Radovanović1, Gordana Matović1




1 University of Belgrade, Faculty of Agriculture, Nemanjina 6, 11080 Zemun, Serbia; E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

2 University of Belgrade, Faculty of Chemistry, Studentski trg 12-16, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia




Chemical properties of water (pH, electrical conductivity and carbonate, bicarbonate, chloride, calcium, magnesium and sodium concentrations) of the water in the drainage canals of Galovica and Petrac, southeastern Srem, were tested in the period from 2008 to 2010. The objective was to determine the interaction between water quality and hydrological and anthropogenic drivers that characterize these two drainage areas, as well as to find out whether the water complies with quality requirements for irrigation. The results show that hydrological and anthropogenic factors do affect the quality of water in the drainage canals. It is poorer than that of the Sava River, which is the recipient of the drained waters. The concentrations of salts in the canal water, if used for crop irrigation, pose a low-to-moderate risk. Elevated bicarbonate concentrationsrestrict the application of drip or sprinkler irrigation systems. Irrigation of large surfaces in the drainage areas of Galovica and Petrac would require the Galovica and Petrac pumping stations to be reversible, so that, when needed, they can pump water from the Sava into the system of drainage canals.

Keywords: water quality, drainage canals, southeastern Srem.



In recent decades drought has been a growing problem in Serbia, like in many other South East European countries. Serbia registers an upward air temperature trend (Gocić and Trajković, 2013; Unkaširević et al., 2005; Unkaširević and Tošić, 2013). In Belgrade, the average air temperature has increased by 1.3°C (Stričević et al., 2005) in 113 years (1888-2000). In Serbia's lowlands (agricultural land), the mean annual temperature has increased by 0.9°C (Matović et al., 2013) over the past 20 years (1991/92-2011/12), compared to the previous 30 years (1961/62-1990/91). The temperature increase during the crop growing season (April to September) has been even more significant, by 1.4°C. Unkaširević and Tošić (2013)also reported the highest temperature increase trend during the summer period (1949-2009).

Assessments suggest that the upward temperature trend will continue (Alcamo et al., 2007; van der Linden and Mitchell, 2009; Saadi et al., 2015), such that in northern Serbia (Province of Vojvodina), a mean annual air temperature increase of 1.3oC is expected in 2040 (Lalić et al., 2011), and 2.4°C in 2080, relative to 1985-2005. The predictions are that the greatest temperature increase will be recorded in the summer season (Saadi et al., 2015).

Apart from the upward temperature trend, the World Meteorological Organization (Alcamo et al., 2007)estimates that South East Europe (including Serbia) is to expect less precipitation in the future, which will result in reduced runoff, soil moisture and availability of water resources.

Resolving the drought issue in Serbia will largely be based on increasing irrigation coverage. Some 15 years ago the state of affairs was such that less than 1% (about 30,000 ha) of farmland suitable for irrigation was actually irrigated (Serbia Waters, 2000). In 2015, the percentage is only slightly higher. Based on irrigation coverage of irrigable land, Serbia finds itself at the very bottom in Europe. In the European Union, the percent coverage is about six times greater and in some Mediterranean countries (Italy, Cyprus, Greece) it is between 20 and 30% (Eurostat, 2012). The situation in Serbia is not satisfactory not only in terms of coverage, but also with regard to technical suitability and level of utilization of irrigation systems in place. Systems built in the 1970's and 1980's are in part out of service due to lackluster maintenance or failure, and in part as a result of the inability of farmers to invest and a lack of interest due to price disparities and revenue collection issues (Water Management Master Plan of the Republic of Serbia, 2002).