As part of the follow-up to the assessment of the water-food-energy-ecosystems nexus in the Drina River Basin, carried out under the Water Convention, an Expert Group on flow regulation and environmental flows was held 11-12 June 2019 in Zagreb, hosted by the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC). Both the nexus assessment and follow-up are funded by the Italian Ministry for the Environment, Land and Sea.
The meeting is part of a process for developing a study which will include:
1. A review of international practice with environmental flows and good practices (in particular in the European Union and South-East Europe) and an analysis of the environmental flow regulation and its implementation in the three Drina countries;
2. An analysis of relevant international examples of agreeing at the transboundary level about specific aspects of flow regulation and reconciling different uses; and
3. Recommendations and options for formalizing the flow regulation in the Drina Basin.
The Expert Group, formed of diverse expertise, provides advice and input for the study by supporting the analysis, shaping the scope and developing the recommendations. The participants of the meeting therefore included water management and environment protection authorities, hydropower operators and civil society representatives from Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia.
The meeting focused on flow regulation of the Drina River, taking stock of current needs in relation to information, regulation and development of operation, including related trade-offs. Practices from other transboundary basins were also learnt about.
Officials and experts agreed to work towards a harmonized methodological approach to determine environmental flows that provides water for ecosystem needs but also takes into account infrastructure on the river and water uses. The need to coordinate and update operational rules for hydropower dams was also recognized.
The participants underlined the importance of improving monitoring as well as data collection and exchange on the status of waters, and transparency about the operational rules and regimes was also called for. The Expert Group concluded there to be a need for such a group of experts and authorities reconvening to work on various issues related to flow in order to: agree about key common features for approaches to environmental flows and a common set of definitions and defining indicators for ciritical environmental flows. Sharing experience and good practice was also recognized as valuable, on topics such as the legal basis and application of environmental flows to different types of waters as well as monitoring.
As follow-up to the meeting, a desk study report is developed according to the outline reviewed and discussed at the meeting. The report is to be commented by the authorities and key stakeholders before its finalization and release, tentatively in October 2019.