This work provides an inventory of water resources and presents the current status of water supply, water quality as well as wastewater management in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and the State Union of Serbia and Montenegro, established after the break-up of the former Yugoslavia.
All three countries are very rich in water resources, pertaining in a large percentage to the Adriatic and Black Sea basins. However, this richness is not adequately reflected in the current status of the public water supply. Water supply is satisfactory only in bigger cities, whereas rural populations still largely depend on the local sources. Furthermore, with respect to integrated water management, there is a big discrepancy between the capacities of water supply and drainage and those for municipal and industrial wastewater treatment. Only a small percentage of wastewaters receive at least some treatment, putting those receiving natural waters at considerable risk. Nevertheless, available reports on the water quality of ambient waters do not reveal the existence of this problem on a wider scale, but indicate only few hot spots. Microbiological pollution near big cities and patchy elevated levels of heavy metals and organic pollutants around industrial plants and agricultural lands belong to these exceptions. Such a relatively favourable situation is, partly, a consequence of a significant decrease in economic activities, which is characteristic of all transition countries, but it also reveals the impact of the recent wars in the region.
Political and military conflicts in the region generated mutual distrust and lack of cooperation between the three countries. However, attempts are being made to resolve most of the issues related to cross-border contamination by signing international and regional treaties.
As a part of pre-accession activities, all three states are harmonizing their legislation with the EU and are joining scientific projects on the water protection of other western countries. This is expected to bring considerable benefits to the local population and to make economic development more vigorous.