Interaction Between Water Protection and Spatial Planning

Milica Dobricic1, Prvoslav Marjanovic2


1 Ministry of Construction, Transport and Infrastructure, Belgrade, Kralja Milutina 10a, 11000 Belgrade, Serbia; E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

2 Institute for the Development of Water Resources "Jaroslav Cerni", Jaroslava Cernog 80, Pinosava-Belgrade, Serbia; E-mail: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it



The paper considers the importance and role of spatial planning within the framework of water quality protection and the sustainable use of regional water supply sources in Serbia while focusing on sanitary protection zones within this context. It shows the relationship between spatial planning documents and water management, primarily the water pollution control plan and the study pertaining to the zones of sanitary protection of water supply sources, as well as the place and role of water protection within the spatial planning system in Serbia. By analysing real-life examples, i.e., the existing spatial plans for the specially designated water supply sources of Uvac, Selova and Ključ, it is possible to get an insight into the possibilities for improving the interaction between water protection and the process of spatial planning in Serbia.

Keywords: spatial planning, water protection, regional water supply sources, reservoirs, sanitary protection zones, water supply sources, Serbia.



Water is fundamental to the health of the biosphere, strong economic growth and human social well-being. Despite its relative scarcity and absolute importance to life on earth, fresh water resources are often used inefficiently or polluted unnecessarily.

Policymakers work towards developing approaches to balance human demands for water with the water requirements of ecosystems. The European Water Framework Directive, which aims to encourage the sustainable management and protection of freshwater resources, brings this agenda into sharp focus in Europe. Land use and environmental quality are closely related, and the nature and location of development can significantly influence both the generation and resolution of environmental problems. This places spatial planning, which provides a framework for regulating the development and use of land, in a strong position to affect water quantity and quality issues and thus to aid in the achievement of the Directive's goals. In particular, spatial planning has an important function in integrating the use and management of land and water more closely than is presently the case. Several incidents that occurred during the 1990s illustrate the growing constraints in traditional water management and the growing importance of spatial planning in this regard. For example in 1993 and 1995, many rivers in Europe, and in 2014 in the Balkan region were abnormally high and floods occured at many locations. Thousands of people living in the hinterland had to be evacuated from their low-lying homes as a precautionary measure. In contrast to this, in 2017, Serbia and the region also experienced a summer with unusually low precipitation. The cumulative result of these experiences brought to the forefront the importance of spatial planning in water management.

In Serbia water management evolved over centuries. Over the centuries, a complex and technical infrastructure has been built, consisting of embankments, river regulation and pumping stations to irrigation and drainage cannals in Vojvodina and elswhere. Many large dams were constructed for the purpose of water supply and/or other uses. The total water surface has been cut back and the width of river beds has been reduced. The natural dynamics of the water system has been reduced. Human intervention has reduced the resilience of the water system and made it susceptible to increasing urbanisation and climate change. Ongoing urbanisation has had, and still has its effects on water management. In developed areas, water cannot infiltrate the soil, so any storm runoff is discharged very rapidly, due to the diminished retaining capacity of these areas, resulting in rapidly increasing water levels. Climate change aggravates this situation.

This is indeed one of the challenges of recent water management in Serbia and elsewhere. New policies tend to focus on allocating more space for water and on safeguarding the space available for water from the encroachment of further urbanisation. In addition planning instruments have been introduced to ensure water resources protection and its sustainability. These are meant to guarantee that the interests of water are explicitly and in a balanced manner taken into account in spatial planning. In short, it entails from the outset to actively engage water authorities in the development of spatial plans. However the practice is not always alligned with the development of new policies.

The responsibility for water management is often divided between the National Water Authority and the Regional and Local Water Authorities. Water management includes flood control, water quantity management, and water quality management. Flood control is meant to keep dikes, dams, and other infrastructure in good condition. Water quantity management includes water level management, for which often, pumping stations are needed. Water quality management includes waste water treatment and monitoring water releases, and is meant to meet ecological and water quality standards, required for water supply, recreation, agriculture, etc. Local governments and municipalities are responsible for sewage systems and stormwater facilities. Drinking water supply is in the hands of public companies, and is directly or indirectly, controlled by municipalities and provinces.

Increasingly, in many countries (for example, in The Netherlands) the responsibility over water management and spatial planning is within one ministry. Areas and networks of national significance for the economic and social development are set out in the National Spatial Structure. One of the key responsibilities is preparing and coordinating national policy and strategies on spatial planning. This responsibility includes ensuring the implementation of EU legislation in national regulations.

Many architects and urban planners are increasingly aware of the negative effects of urbanisation and the need to incorporate water management in spatial planning. However, neither a legal framework nor the economic tools currently exist to support an integrated and environmentally-friendly approach to spatial and water management in cities.

Spatial planning is often characterized as bottom-up process; it is based on the right of local self-governments to decide on the forms of spatial management in their communities and often fails to include the drainage basin approach. Therefore, it makes sense to look into good practices and to have broader perspective in preparation of principal planning documents (i.e., studies of determinants and directions of spatial development for communes and local spatial management plans) so that water resources are consciously managed and non-technical flood protection measures more widely used.

The current trends in spatial planning expressed in the New Charter of Athens (2003) or the Leipzig Charter (2007) highlight the need to shape compact and user-friendly cities, while at the same time emphasizing the wise use of natural resources. These two goals are sometimes difficult to reconcile, especially when economic priorities strongly dominate over environmental considerations.

Significant anthropogenic transformation of the environment alters the natural water cycle. Urbanisation processes in the 19th and 20th centuries left the water networks of many cities greatly impoverished.

The possibilities of water management in a drainage basin are largely determined by land use activities in that area. Therefore, water management cannot be treated merely as the subject of a sectoral policy; instead it requires full integration with spatial management, urban planning and architecture.

The full use of water's potential in terms of provisioning, regulating and cultural services, (Kronenberg 2012) at all levels of planning and design, is equally important: from the National Spatial Development Concept and regional spatial development plans, through studies of determinants and directions of spatial development for communes, to local plans and the design of individual buildings and public and private space sanitary protection zones.

In this paper the authors analyze the existing spatial plans of specially designated (surface) water supply sources of the regional subsystems of Uvac, Selova and Ključ, and point out the importance and role of spatial planning in the context of water quality management and the sustainable use of water resources in Serbia, while at the same time giving critical view of the regulatory framework regarding the delineation and establishment of sanitary protection zones of regional water supply sources in Serbia.


Policy and Legal Framework

The system of spatial planning in Serbia requires the development of the following planning documents: Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia (on a national level); a regional spatial plan and a spatial plan for specially designated areas (on a regional level); a spatial plan of local municipalities and an urban development plan (on a local level). Water protection represents a compulsory segment of all planning documents, its treatment varying depending on the level and type of planning document (Law on Planning and Construction, 2009-2014).

The preparation of spatial plans of the specially designated areas is of special importance for water protection and management. These plans are developed for areas that require a dedicated organisation of management, resource use and protection, and also include water supply sources (surface – catchment areas of large and medium sized reservoirs or groundwater sources –large groundwater source zones). These planning documents cover the catchment areas of large and medium-sized reservoirs and water supply sources, as well as the wider zone of protection of a water resource. They also include the boundaries of entire specially designated areas, namely the boundaries of sanitary protection zones, and take cognizance of relevant regulations referring to the organization and management of the area according to the defined regime of sanitary protection of the source and other elements including construction activities and limits in the area under consideration, all this in accordance with the relevant law and regulations pertaining to the sanitary protection zones.

It is important to distinguish between spatial plans for specially designated areas where reservoirs have been built and those where they have not yet been built. In the case where they have not been built, a spatial plan for a specially designated area reserves an area and proposes that the area be considered a sanitary protection zone until a study on sanitary protection zones has been completed and signed off by the minister of health (a procedure legaly required only for built reservoirs). In the case of existing reservoirs, the spatial plan for the specially designated area is prepared in accordance with the already developed study on the sanitary protection zones of water supply sources, the Water Law (2010-2016) and the Regulations on how the sanitary protection zones of water supply sources are determined and maintained (2008). According to Maksin-Micic (2003), the protection of an area means the permanent use and preservation of an area for a specific purpose, while the reservation of an area is considered to mean the safe-keeping of an area until the planned realisation of its use. Spatial plans of a specially designated area can also contain relevant detailed analysis and can be directly implemented.

The Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia from 2010 to 2020 (adopted in 2010 in the form of the National Law) represents an umbrella planning document which other national strategies and policies are to be aligned with. One of the goals of this Plan is for the water quality in rivers to remain in classes I or I/II. in zones of water sources and in areas that are protected on the basis of their natural values, and in classes IIa and IIb in all other cases (the roots of this requirements are to be found in older legislation and Water Resources Master Plan for Serbia. Class III is permissible only on shorter reaches of smaller rivers downstream of bigger settlements and/or industry (The new Water act from 2010 changes this somewhat, but essentially similar requirements are still in place). No reach of a watercourse may be outside of a prescribed class. It is noted that water classes and the boundaries between classes are based on regulations from 1968 which are no longer valid and are not in accordance with the Water Law from 2010 and the amendments to this law from 2016. This in many ways complicates the situation in practice and causes confusion which often leads to the absence of the action necessary to ensure adequate protection of water resources designated for water supply. In essence the Spatial Plan for the Republic of Serbia from 2010 is somewhat outdated as a new Water Law has been passed in the meantime and a number of by-laws have been adopted concerning water quality, the classification of waters and the ecological status of water.

In accordance with the Water Law from 2010 water protection in areas, specially designated for water supply, is carried out within bigger water basins through implementation of technological, management, organisational and economic measures within the delineated sanitary zones for protection of water supply sources (Regulations on sanitary protection zones prescribe three protection zone categories and the regime of land use within each category). Current regulations on sanitary protection zones leave a lot to be desired and are often contradictory and misleading due to inconsistent formulations and requirements. .

As a result, changes to the Law on Spatial Planning and other water protection regulations are expected, as are the adjustments to the current legal framework to meet the requirements of the process of alignment of the national legislative framework with the EU water and environment directives, as well as the emerging national and specific needs. This is especially important if we bear in mind the change in focus of the legal framework in the field of water and environmental protection, aimed at the protection of resources.

The Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia from 2010 to 2020 has determined 18 regional water supply systems of the highest quality with corresponding subsystems including groundwater and surface water sources (existing reservoirs or those yet to be built), with the required water protection to be carried out at the level of the relevant catchments (basins) (Djordjevic, 2009).

Of the 18 regional water supply systems identified by the national plan, dedicated spatial plans for specially designated water supply sources/areas have also been prepared for priority catchment areas of reservoirs and water sources for the following systems: Bogovina, Rzav, Vlasina, Bovan, Stuborovni, Ključ, Uvac, Selova and Ćelije, while spatial plans for the specially designated areas for the catchments of reservoirs Gruža, Vrutci and Prvonek are being developed.

It is to be expected that the already existing spatial plans for specially designated areas will undergo certain changes as a result of changes in legislation pertaining to the water and environment, whereas those still being prepared, or are yet to be prepared, will take into consideration the existing legal framework for the water domain as well as the expected changes in the framework in accordance with the requirements of relevant EU directives.

Spatial plans of regions are prepared in coordination with sectoral strategies and regional development plans. They determine the obligation to develop spatial plans for specially designated areas of entire homogenous regions of interest to the republic, which include areas of regional sources of water supply. Plans at the local level and other planning documents of a lower order must be in accord with higher level plans, i.e., plans of smaller areas must be in accord with those of wider regions.

Given below is a list of the basic planning documents of relevance to water management as required by the Water Law (2010, 2016):

  • Strategy for Water Management in the Republic of Serbia,
  • River Basin Management plan for the Danube Basin in Serbia,
  • Flood Risk Management Plan for Serbia,
  • Water Pollution Management Plan for Serbia.

So far, a Water Management Strategy for the Republic of Serbia up to the year 2034, has been developed and adopted (2017), while other documents are being prepared. Strategies and programs pertaining to spatial planning and other strategic documents that are developed at the level of the Republic of Serbia are now being brought into accord.

It is noted that the Minister responsible for health issues (currently the Minister for Public Health) has the responsibility to declare sanitary protection zones on the basis of a Study of Sanitary Zones for Protection of Water Supply Sources. These zones have been declared following requests made by local municipalities for protection zones on their territories. The draw back of the existing procedures is the fact that for regional water supply systems sanitary protection zones typically extend beyond a single municipality which in practice requires coordination of activities and document preparation between different municipal actors and this is often lacking and/or neglected making effective implementation of the regulations almost imposible..

According to data obtained from the Directorate for Water of the Republic of Serbia, studies of sanitary protection zones have so far been completed for the catchment areas of reservoirs Barje, Bovan, Ćelije,Vrutci, Grlište, Grošnica, Gruža, Prvonek, Stuborovni and Selova. The relevant Ministerial decisions on sanitary protection zones for the catchment areas of the Selova, Grlište, Ćelije and Gruža reservoirs have also been completed as part of the process of the development of the spatial plans for specially designated areas for the mentioned reservoirs.

The Water Pollution Control Plan (the draft of the plan has been prepared and the strategic environmental impact assessment (SEA) is currently being prepared after which the adoption of the plan is expected) and studies of the sanitary protection zones of water supply sources, which are an obligatory part of the analytical and document basis of the planning documents (Regulations on the content, manner and procedure for developing documents referring to spatial and urban planning, 2015) are of special importance for the development of spatial plans for specially designated water supply sources/areas.

It should be mentioned that a Water Management Master Plan for Serbia was developed in 2002, as well as a General Plan for Water Pollution Control in 1991 (Dobricic, 2008). The role of these documents within the current planning and regulatory framework remains unclear despite the fact that these documents contain valuable strategic directions not all of which have been integrated into the newer strategic documents such as the National Water Strategy.


Figure 1: Map 4. Energy and water management infrastructure, Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia, 2010 (


Study Area and Materials and Methods

This paper considers the regional water supply systems and subsystems of Uvac, Selova and Ključ for which spatial plans for specially designated areas have been developed. It is noted that the Study of the sanitary zones for protection of water supply sources is also considered for the Selova water system.

The catchment area of the regional water supply resource for the Uvac subsystem belongs to the Western Morava-Rzav regional water supply system supplying water to the population of the municipalities of Nova Varoš, Prijepolje, Priboj, Kosjerić and Ivanjica. It will be of strategic importance in future water supply planning/plans of other areas of central Serbia. The catchment area of the Uvac River is a highely managed catchment area in Serbia in terms of water resources utilization and hydropower production. There are three reservoirs in the catchment area - Uvac (Lake Sjenica), Kokin Brod (Lake Zlatar) and Lake Radionja, the first two are considered to be the most important water reservoirs in Serbia, having an important role in terms of hydropower production and also a wider role in respect to water resources (Spatial plan of a specially designated area of the Special Nature Reserve Uvac, 2010).

The Selova Reservoir catchment covers the upper part of the Toplica River basin on the eastern slopes of Mt. Kopaonik. This water supply source belongs to the lower Southern Morava regional system - the Toplica subsystem which, according to existing plans, should supply water to settlements belonging to the municipalities of Kursumlija, Blace, Prokuplje, Merošina and Žitorađa and partially to settlements on the territory of the town of Niš (Spatial plan of the specially designated area in the Selova Reservoir catchment area, 2015).

The catchment area of the Ključ Reservoir on the Šumanka River is part of the lower Southern Morava regional water management system - the Jablanica subsystem. The Ključ Reservoir should ensure sufficient amounts of water for settlements belonging to the municipalities of Lebane and Medveđa, with the possibility of connecting settlements from the Bojnik municipality. (Spatial plan of a specially designated area in the Ključ Reservoir catchment area, 2010).

General data on the studied systems is shown in Table 1.




The investigative work in this paper is based on the comparative analysis of existing spatial plans for specially designated water supply sources in the areas of Uvac, Selova and Kljuc, and especially of their elements that refer to:

  • Sanitary protection zones,
  • Water protection measures
  • Other policy measures

Table 2 shows the elements used in the comparative analysis of the studied systems.




Results and Discussion

In the process of preparing the spatial plans for the specially designated areas for water supply reliance is made on the information and analyses contained in the studies on sanitary protection zones for the area in question and the relevant Ministerial decisions that follow these studies. When such Studies and/or Ministerial decisions are not available the teams preparing spatial plans apply the existing regulations to determine the boundaries of the sanitary protection zones without due consideration and analysis of the unique characteristics and protection needs of each particular situation.

Furthermore, the studies on sanitary protection zones which are a prerequisite for the Ministerial decision are typically conducted with limited budgets and often lack detailed analyses and data collection needed to consider all the relevant aspects of water protection on merit and are more often than not based on limited existing data sets. The end effect is that protective measures that are specified in these studies end up being generic and not specific enough to enable easy and effective implementation and monitoring during the lifetime of the system being protected nor do they make possible effective management and enforcement of measures within the delineated protective zones, especially when such prescribed measures infringe on basic property rights of land owners within the protection zones. In addition, the measures that the Studies on sanitary protection zones prescribe, while in accordance with the regulations on sanitary protection zones, are often contradicting other regulations and sometimes even the Constitution, to the effect that, in practice, these measures end up being unimplementable. For example, the regulations on sanitary protection zones require full access control within the first zone of protection which typically is the riparian area around the water system (often 50 to 100 m from the avarage water line and along upstream channels of the reservoir tributaries) inclusive of the physical fencing even when such fencing can represent a flood hazard and despite the fact that under other regulation right is given to private and/or public entities to manage the fishery and sell the fishing licenses to sports fisherman fishing on the banks of protected systems when it is clear that the presence of fisherman in such locations would be considered illegal in accordance with Article 21 of the Regulations on Sanitary Protection Zones defines the boundaries of Zone 1 as:

"Sanitary protection zone I for surface water reservoirs includes the lake from which water is taken for public water supply inclusive of the Dam and the riparian area of a minimum of 10m in horizontal projection from the water level at maximum storage capacity of the lake. This zone also includes the surface water tributaries of the lake (full length of the tributaries) and riparian zones of the tributariries to10m in horizontal projection at10 year average flow conditions."

And Article 30 of the same regulations which states that:

"Access to Sanitary protection zone I is allowed only to employees of the water supply company. Only in exceptional circumstances access can be granted to other persons. Records are to be kept of all visitors to the zone...."

A complicating problem arises when the Spatial plan for the specially designated area is prepared in the absence of a study on zones of sanitary protection for the system in question. This is the case with the Special Nature Reserve Uvac. In this particular case there are existing structures and infrastructure facilities located near the shore of the lake itself and within the area which would be declared a first or a second zone of sanitary protection were the Study on sanitary protection zones were completed and zones of sanitary protection declared according to requirements within articles 21 and 22 of the current regulations on sanitary protection zones. For example a major regional road is running along the lake itself and many other "illegal" activities, according to the current regulations on sanitary protection zones, are evident (electric boats, fishing platforms, tourist facilities, etc.) (See Figure 2). This is further complicated by the fact that many of the existing structures are legally "non-existent" while some of these may be in the process of acquiring a legal status in accordance with existing legislation in Serbia.

The end effect is that a spatial plan prepared in accordance with current legislation may not be implementable in practice, which in essence would compromise the whole planning process and water protection zones objectives, while at the same time, probably create unforeseen socio economic problems with local land owners and other system users. The main message of these analysis is that the current legal framework regarding sanitary protection zones leaves a lot to be desired and is in need of review. Furthermore, the message is that much deeper and detailed alignment between planning and water regulations is also needed, as well as is the detailed analyses of socio economic aspects of the whole problem of sanitary protection zones, property rights and other associated aspects.

The study on the sanitary protection zones represents part of the analytical and documentation basis of a spatial plan for a specially designated area, and according to the Law on Planning and Construction, is not subjected to public review. The spatial plan is however subject to a public participation and review process which could result in recommendations to change, for example, the boundaries of the sanitary protection zones as given in the study on protection zones and the relevant Ministerial decisions. Such procedural requirements can confuse the process of decision making and question the real role of the study on sanitary protection zones, or at least the lack of a public participation process in the initial delineation of such zones.


Figure 2: Zlatar Reservoir showing structures and infrastructure very close to the lake shore and "illegal" activities according to regulations on sanitary protection on the lake itself.


In the case of the Selova Water Supply regional system, in order to prepare a Spatial Plan for the specially designated areas, a Study of the sanitary zones for protection of water supply sources was carried out in parallel with the development of the Spatial Plan. In the process of development of the Study of the sanitary zones for protection it was evident that some issues were not quite clear to the interested public. For example, there was misunderstanding of the role of the Study of the sanitary protection zones and it was regarded as a part of the Report on the Strategic Environmental Impact Assessment of the Spatial Plan, and that it is subject to public review of the Spatial Plan, which was in contradiction with the existing regulations mentioned earlier. Based on the initiative put forward by the planners of this Spatial Plan (the Agency for Spatial Planning of the Republic of Serbia), local municipalities, within the boundaries of the Spatial Plan, submitted a request to the Minister of Public Health, following which a decision was made to determine the sanitary zones for protection of water supply sources and in so doing de facto exclude the delineation of the protected zones from the public participation and review process. The fact that an intervention of the planners was needed and action of local authorities was required to resolve the issue demonstrates the flaws in existing procedures and requirements, especially when one considers the objectives of the whole planning process for the for the spatial planning of the special designated areas for regional water supply, which is the protection of a valuable resource, of much broader interest than is the interest of local municipalities.

This experience suggests that consideration should be given to the necessary review of current regulations and required procedures to rectify possible conflicting situations in the future. One possibility, in the case of regional water supply sources, would be that decisions on sanitary protection zones be made following the request of a responsible state department rather than that of a municipality.

In the spatial plans for the specially designated areas of the Uvac and Ključ water supply sources, sanitary protection zones were delineated at a scale of 1:50 000, while the Spatial Plan for the specially designated area in the Selova Reservoir, delineation was based on a very detailed map showing individual cadastre plots at a scale of 1:2500 and this is of vital importance especially when delineating the first zone of sanitary protection. This represents a step forward in terms of the methodology used when developing spatial plans for designated water supply areas and is in agreement with the regulations as specified in Article 18 of the Regulations on the preparation of maps in the planning process. According to the decisions of the Government of the Republic of Serbia regarding the development of spatial plans for specially designated catchment areas of the Vrutci and Prvonek reservoirs for 2017, the new plans that are now being made must contain a detailed analysis for the first zone of sanitary protection, however, this is an exception rather than the rule and is not part of the regulations currently in place and could lead to court challenges in some cases. Figures 3 and 4 show the delineation of the sanitary protection zones for the Selova Reservoir case as given in the Spatial Plan from 2015 and the Study of Sanitary Protection Zones from 2013.


Water Protection Measures

Water protection measures in the analyzed spatial plans for specially designated water supply sources generally refer to:

  1. Technological measures (e.g., constructing sewerage networks and wastewater treatment plants, etc.);
  2. Water resources management measures (establishing sanitary protection zones of water supply sources; increasing low flows during drought periods by managing reservoirs for specific purposes; anti-erosion measures to protect catchment areas by implementing biological protection measures (afforestation, the reclamation of pasture lands, etc.) and the construction of anti-erosion dams in river beds; fish stocking of reservoirs; provision of adequate fish ladders (passages), etc.);
  3. Organizational and economic measures (introduction of water quality monitoring, compliance with rules pertaining to the transport of hazardous waste in the source protection zones; banning the sale of pollutants for which there are adequate substitutes; introduction of wastewater pollution fees, etc.).


Figure 3: Selova water supply source sanitary protection zones of the specially designated area in the Selova Reservoir catchment area, 2015, (


Figure 4: Selova water supply source sanitary protection zones in the Study on sanitary protection of the Selova Reservoir water supply source, 2013 (


An important aspect of the spatial plans for specially designated areas is that of an overlapping sanitary protection zone framework and other forms of protection, as was the case of the overlapping of the Uvac Special Nature Reserve Protection Zone and the Sanitary Protection Zone Framework which has more restrictive protection mechanisms.

An evident problem in all cases is the lack of quantifiable connection between the measures defined through the general approach used and the resulting water quality in the reservoir. The current regulations do not specify the quantifiable objectives for the maximum loading of the reservoirs used for water supply which are to be achieved through the implementation of protection measures specified in the spatial plans or studies on the protection zones. As a result measures specified in these documents end up being almost identical for each and every system begging the question weather such measures should become a regulated norm rather than the result of specific documents which are prepared for this purpose at an additional cost and time expenditure. This suggests that for each and every system specific water quality, targets need to be defined and protection measures specified, for such systems should be functionally linked to such water quality targets. When setting these targets cognizance should be taken of the achievable values as a function of the unique characteristics of the basin and dominant land use practices in the basin. For example, it would be unrealistic to set the targets for water quality at the level of mesotrophy for reservoirs in whose catchments more than 30% of land is used for agriculture, as these targets would never be achievable in practice through implementation of protection measures which are feasible.

The above suggests that in the pending legal and regulatory changes appropriate analyses need to be carried out to enable the development and adoption of appropriate regulatory mechanisms to functionally link protection measures to target water quality in the reservoirs.


Other Policy Measures

Other policy measures in spatial plans for specially designated water supply sources are generally presented as:

  1. Measures for environmental protection (development of systems for the management of municipal waste, equipping and developing regional sanitary municipal landfills; the development of an integral register of pollutants and of the emission of polluting matters; and other);
  2. Measures to protect valuable natural assets (the introduction of a compensation system to compensate landowners for any damage they may suffer from the implementation of protection measures, or for any withheld or reduced profit, as well as compensation programs for the limited development of local municipalities within a Spatial Plan area, due to the implementation of a regime and measures for the protection of natural values and water supply sources).
  3. Measures that refer to the protection and use of agricultural land and to the sustainable development of agriculture (support for the production of organic goods, especially in protected areas, water supply sources; limitations regarding the use of chemicals in agriculture, and other);
  4. Measures for the protection and use of forests and the sustainable development of forestry (afforestation and the maintenance of the protective character of forests in catchment areas with water supply sources; and other).

As before, these measures are generic in nature and are not linked to target water quality in a quantifiable manner.

In the case of the Uvac System, apart the measures previously mentioned, the Spatial Plan for the specially designated area of the Uvac Special Nature Reserve also points out the unsolved problem of water (resource) rent. It suggests that the collection of the resource (water) rent in Serbia should be organized in a manner which is based on positive experiences of other countries, so that the greatest part/percentage of the collected revenue would remain on the territory where the resources are located, and this would represent a significant economic basis for the development of the plan area rather than the entire revenue going towards the overall budget, as is the current practice, from which it is reallocated as a part of the budgeting process and is not necessarily reinvested into its resource base.


Conclusions and Recommendations

Water protection is an obligatory segment of all planning documents, its treatment differing depending on the level and type of planning document. In the context of water protection and water management, spatial plans developed for specially designated water supply areas, i.e., for catchment areas of large and medium sized reservoirs are of particular importance.

A comparative analysis of examples of existing spatial plans for specially designated water supply subsystems of Uvac, Selova and Ključ, point to deficiencies inherent in the current planning and protection frameworks and identify some of the areas where policy and regulatory frameworks need to be improved.

It is evident that the importance of spatial planning and its link to objectives of resource protection should be significantly improved and that such improvement should promote quantifiable and functional links between the desired water protection targets and protection measures at the disposal of planners and other responsible professionals.

Furthermore, the jurisdiction for sanitary protection zones, which is currently within the Ministry of Health should be reconsidered in view of the fact that the primary focus of the planning process is on resource protection rather than on the finished drinking water delivered to consumers which is the main focus of the Ministry of Health.

One possible improvement consists of undertaking certain activities to more efficiently protect and plan water supply sources. In relation to this, the role of River Basin Management Plans and Water Pollution Protection Plans should gain prominence in the future as these are the plans within which resolution of inherent conflicts of resource use and protection should be resolved and in which full public participation and review are expected to occur ensuring that all interests at a broader than local scale are considered and articulated.

With respect to sanitary protection zones it is evident that significant changes are needed to bring the regulations in line with the intended objectives and make them much easier to implement in practice. In this context it is of special importance that due consideration is given to the uniqueness of each particular situation in the field and the need to avoid conflicting and confusing situations in practice. Here it is critical that delineation of protected zones and protection measures that will be put in place do not defy common sense and result in unimplementable situations in practice (i.e., fencing of the lake along its entire perimeter) and prevention of activities which are not compromising the use of resources for their intended purpose. Of special importance is also the setting of targets for allowable loading of the reservoirs on a case by case basis at a level that will ensure long term maintenance of water quality at the desired levels.

While the need for spatial plans for specially designated areas is profound and justifies their further development for the water systems for which these have not been developed yet (Barje, Vrutci, Prvonek, etc.) it may be wise to delay their development until the completion of regulatory reform,currently in progress, as this could significantly affect the context and extent of these plans.

The importance of a planning framework and its link to water protection stands in support of the above, and is defined by:

  1. Global UN goals up to 2030, calling for, among other things, water protection in terms of reducing water pollution and for integrated water resources management (UN, 2015); and
  2. International UN principles regarding urban and spatial planning, which among other things, point to the importance of establishing a spatial framework for the protection of natural resources and for ensuring integrated and sustainable development based on the guidelines given for the national level, according to which it is necessary to determine standards and regulations for water protection and sustainable water management, as well as guidelines given for the local level, according to which it is necessary to make drinking water and sanitation services accessible to the population (UN-Habitat, 2015).

Greater cooperation and better communication between institutions in the field of water resources and spatial planning is a must, be it in the form of developing studies of sanitary protection zones or spatial plans for specially designated water supply sources. As can be seen from the given examples of existing spatial plans for specially designated areas, a lot remains to be done to fine tune the system for the benefit of the population of Serbia.

In terms of the methodology used, the framework of the sanitary protection zones should remain the main starting points for the preparation of spatial plans for specially designated areas, but as always, the devil is in the detail and it is the details that need further and in depth analyses before desired outcomes could be achieved in practice.

The spatial plans take an integrated view of the area and this should make it possible to protect water supply sources in accordance with the development interests of a general given area and the country as whole. At the same time, when referring to reservoirs that have not yet been built, spatial plans represent an important tool for reserving and protecting space for a given purpose for the benefit of future generations.

In order to realize the desired and proclaimed objectives of development in Serbia the evaluation and mapping of ecosystem services (Karabulut et al, 2016) represents a particular challenge in the context of spatial planning and water protection. Inclusion of ecosystem services in the spatial plans and studies of sanitary protection zones could be a valuable contribution to effective water protection in the future (Stojkov and Dobricic, 2012).



Dobričić, M. (2008), Prostorno planiranje i oblast voda - Prilog Strategiji prostornog razvoja Republike Srbije, u: Sektorski izveštaji o prostornom razvoju Republike Srbije od 1996. do 2008. godine, posebno izdanje, knj. 2., Ministarstvo životne sredine i prostornog planiranja Republike Srbije i Republička agencija za prostorno planiranje, Beograd, str. 247-257

Dobričić, M. (2012) Planska zaštita i održivi razvoj međunarodno zaštićene prirodne i kulturne baštine u Srbiji - razvoj metodologije planiranja i programiranja razvoja, Beograd: Geografski fakultet, Univerzitet u Beogradu, neobjavljena doktorska disertacija. [Dobričić, M. (2012) The planned protection and sustainable development of internationally protected natural and cultural heritage sites in Serbia - developing the methodology for development planning and programming, Belgrade: Faculty of Geography, University of Belgrade, unpublished doctoral dissertation.]

Đorđević, B. (2009) Vodoprivreda i vodoprivredna infrastruktura, Strategija prostornog razvoja Republike Srbije, studijsko analitička osnova, Republička agencija za prostorno planiranje, Beograd

Elaborat o zonama sanitarne zaštite izvorišta vodosnabdevanja akumulacije Selova (2013) Republička direkcija za vode, Republička agencija za prostorno planiranje

Karabulut, A., Egoh, N. B., Lanzanova, D., Grizzetti, B., Bidoglio, G., Pagliero, L., Bouraoui, F., Aloe, A., Reynaud, A., Maes, J., Vandecasteele, I., Mubareka, S. (2016) Mapping water provisioning services to support the ecosystem-water-food-energy nexus in the Danube river basin, Ecosystem Services, Vol. 17, 278-292,

Maksin-Mićić, M. (2003) Osnovna pitanja zaštite prostora u slivovima akumulacija na planinskim područjima Srbije, Vodoprivreda, 35, 349-355

Plan zaštite voda od zagađivanja, radna verzija (2016) Institut za vodoprivredu "Jaroslav Černi", Beograd

Pravilnik o načinu određivanja i održavanja zona sanitarne zaštite izvorišta vodosnabdevanja, Službeni glasnik RS, br. 92/2008

Pravilnik o sadržini, načinu i postupku izrade dokumenata prostornog i urbanističkog planiranja, Službeni glasnik RS, br. 64/2015

Prostoni plan područja posebne namene sliva akumulacije Selova, Službeni glasnik RS, br. 11/2015 [Spatial plan for the catchment area of the water reservoir Selova, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No. 11/2015]

Prostoni plan područja posebne namene slivnog područja akumulacije Ključ, Službeni glasnik RS, br. 55/2010 [Spatial plan for the catchment area of the water reservoir Ključ, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No. 55/2010]

Prostoni plan područja posebne namene Specijalnog rezervata prirode Uvac, Službeni glasnik RS, br. 83/2010 [Spatial Plan for the Special Nature Reserve Uvac, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No. 83/2010]

Prostorni plan Republike Srbije od 2010. do 2020. godine, Službeni glasnik RS, br. 88/2010 [Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia (2010) Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No. 88]

Stojkov, B. and Dobričić, M. (2012) Eco-services and the role of functional regions in Serbia, in: EUROPA XXI, Vol. 22, Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland, pp. 149-161

Spatial Plan of the Republic of Serbia - abridged version (2010) Ministry of Environment and Spatial Planning, Republic Agency for Spatial Planning

Strategija upravljanja vodama na teritoriji Republike Srbije do 2034. godine, Službeni glasnik RS, br. 3/2017

UN (2015) Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, New York

UN-Habitat (2015) International Guidelines on Urban and Territorial Planning, Nairobi, Kenya

Vodoprivredna osnova Republike Srbije, Službenom glasniku RS, br. 11/2002

Zakon o planiranju i izgradnji, Službeni glasnik RS, br. 72/09, 81/09 - ispravka, 64/10 - US, 24/11, 121/12, 42/13 - US, 50/13 -US, 98/13 - US 132/14 i 145/14 [Law on Planning and Construction, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No.72/09, 81/09 - correction, 64/10 - US, 24/11, 121/12, 42/13 - US, 50/13 -US, 98/13 - US 132/14 and 145/14]

Zakon o vodama, Službeni glasnik RS, br. 30/2010, 93/2012 i 101/2016 [Water Law, Official Gazette of the Republic of Serbia, No. 30/2010, 93/2012 and 101/2016]

Jeremy G Carter, Spatial planning, water and the Water Framework Directive: insights from theory and practice , The Geographical Journal, Volume 173, Issue 4, pages 330-342, December 2007

New Charter of Athens 2003: The European Council of Town Planners' Vision for Cities in the 21st century, European Council ofTown Planners, Lisbon 2003.

Leipzig Charter on Sustainable European Cities of 27 April 2007, adopted during a meeting of Member States' Ministers responsiblefor Urban Development in Leipzig, 24–25 May 2007.