Take photos, help the rivers. People capture the lack of water in Bosnia and Herzegovina

16.8.2019 - BANJA LUKA
PHOTO: Markéta Šedivá / Arnika

Because of legislative failures, dozens of rivers lack sufficiently high water levels. Despite their previous promises, the relevant ministries in the Republika Srpska (RS) and the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina (FBiH) [1] have failed to cope with the ongoing hydropower plant boom that affects more than 300 rivers. Nowadays, the plant operators can divert the whole stream into pipes, leaving the river basins parched. People are called upon to photograph drying riverbeds in a nationwide campaign. “Especially during summertime, the situation is beyond bearable,” environmentalists from the Coalition for the Protection of the Rivers in Bosnia and Herzegovina state.


► visit a river with a low water level
► take a photo of the dry river basin or make a video of max. 30 seconds
► send the photo and/or the video with a caption to  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
or to the Coalition’s Facebook page
► share it on social media tagged #SuhaKoritaRijekaBiH and #epp


During the swimming season in the summertime, people increasingly find worrying low water levels, even drained river beds. According to environmentalists, the lack of interest by the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the RS and Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management and Forestry of the FBiH are to blame.

“We got river Ugar which now looks like a creek, and that’s sad. Currently, dozens of hydropower operators are under no obligation to maintain an adequate water level, and they are therefore kept to a minimum. This practice has a huge negative impact on the ecosystem, aquatic life, and also on local communities,” reports Miloš Orlić, coordinator of the Coalition for the Protection of Rivers in BiH.

Nowadays, only the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina has a regulation covering the minimum river flow, which was put into force in 2013 [2]. However, the norm was already quite outdated back then and nowadays it is somewhat insufficient. The Republika Srpska completely lacks such legislation.

In 2018, the current status was criticized by a UNECE report, suggesting to “implement a monitoring programme on ecological flows and enforce them where they are not applied.” [3]

Experts from the Centre for the Environment (Banja Luka, BiH) and Arnika (Prague, CZE) have submitted a draft of the regulation to both ministries as well as to other relevant institutions [4]. In spite of a primary concordant statement, the proposal was soon rejected due to a lack of detailed research which is the responsibility of the state agencies.

“The situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina is unprecedented; there is no other country in Europe without any rules on minimum river flows and the hydropower plant operators are the ones who benefit most from this situation. We call upon the ministries to come up with a defined and binding plan for the implementation of a monitoring system and for minimum river flow legislation,” Arnika’s expert Zuzana Vachůnová stated.

suha korita


Remarks for editors:

[1] The country of Bosnia and Herzegovina is formed of a Serbian entity (Republika Srpska) and a Muslim-Croat entity (Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina). The central government ties both together in a fragile state.

[2] Pravilnik o načinu određivanja ekološki prihvatljivog protoka ("Službene novine FBiH", broj: 4/13)

[3] UNECE: Bosnia and Herzegovina Environmental Performance Reviews (Third Review). pp. 154-155. New York and Geneva, 2018:
“Recommendation 8.4:
The Ministry of Agriculture, Water Management, and Forestry of the Federation of Bosnia and Herzegovina, the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Water Management of the Republika Srpska and the Government of the Brčko District, in cooperation with the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Economic Relations of Bosnia and Herzegovina, should ensure that the respective water agencies:
(a)   carry out strategic environmental assessment procedures regarding new water resources projects for agriculture and/or hydropower purposes;
(b)   implement a monitoring programme on ecological flows and enforce them where they are not applied.”

[4] Bosnia and Herzegovina needs a regulation on minimum river flow | 08/06/2018 (Arnika.org)


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