26.01.2017 - UNESCO Office in Venice

Coordinated sediment monitoring system up and running for Sava River Basin

Building upon strategic goals and specific objectives of the sediment monitoring and data exchange system for the Sava River Basin that were established in 2015, a series of activities were implemented in 2016 by International Sava River Basin Commission, with the support of the UNESCO Regional Bureau for Science and Culture in Europe, aimed at the establishment of a coordinated sediment monitoring system in the basin. Such a monitoring system is in support of the application of Article 6 of the Protocol on Sediment Management to the Framework Agreement of the Sava River Basin (FASRB), approved in June 2016.

UNESCO and the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC) are cooperating closely for the implementation of the initiative “Towards Practical Guidance for Sustainable Sediment Management using the Sava River Basin as a Showcase”. 

Sediment management is an essential element of river basin management plans. “Sediment” covers all natural riverbed substrate from fine silts and sands up to large boulders, and is the layer over which water flows and on which plants and animals thrive. Sediment management covers a wide range of activities that includes anything from the removal of dry gravels to the dredging of whole river channels and the reintroduction of removed sediment into the water environment.

Historically, sediment management reduces flood risk, bank erosion, for use as aggregate and to improve land drainage. When sediment management needs to be done on an international scale, the need to coordinate amongst the various state and other actors is a “must”, as the actions of one country upriver could have dramatic effects on another country downriver.

The idea of the project is to bring together the state-of-the-art in scientific as well as practical knowledge on Sustainable Sediment Management (SSM) and to make this knowledge available through practical training courses and a guidance document on SSM, which was launched in November 2015. This guidance is intended to be used by policy makers at international, national/entity and local levels, contracting authorities, designers of water engineering structures and researchers. The implementation of the guidance in the Sava River Basin will hopefully inspire other river basins in the world to do the same.

Expected to be concluded end of February 2017, the project has a few remaining activities ongoing, including:

-          Installation of two new pilot hydrological stations for sediment monitoring of the Sava River (one in Croatia and one in Serbia).; by the end of the project, two additional monitoring stations will be upgraded in Bosnia and Herzegovina and in Slovenia, and connected automatically to the Sava GIS system (http://savagis.org/map) and related Hydrological Information System (http://savahis.org/his).  

-          Establishment of an ad hoc expert group of ISRBC who already developed a programme for the preparation of the Sediment Management Plan (in implementation of Article 5 of the Protocol)

-          Identification and designation of the competent authorities, responsible for the implementation of the Protocol, and nomination a focal point for official communication in implementation of the Protocol, by the Parties (in application of Article 10 of the Protocol)

-          Organization of a workshop on sediment management, monitoring and modelling (January 2017)

Experts involved in the project have underlined the fact that all these efforts should ideally be supported by developing Part II of both the guidance document and capacity-building efforts undertaken several years ago with the support of UNESCO-IHP, the UNESCO Regional Bureau in Venice and SEDNET. These activities have facilitated the ratification of the Protocol on Sediment Management to the FASRB by Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia and Serbia. Slovenia will ratify it in the coming months.


Website : http://www.savacommission.org

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