The current water management strategy in the Republic of Serbia (RS) heavily relies on the construction of water accumulations instead of opting for groundwater resources which are, in most cases, available and in abundance. In RS, there are 28 water accumulations with individual volume above 10 million m3. Still, 75% of water supply resources are groundwater with exploitation groundwater reserves assessed between 40 and 60 m3/s just in central Serbia. The real needs of Central Serbia (Serbia without Belgrade, Vojvodina, and Kosovo) are around 12 m3/s for municipal and 20 m3/s including industry (in case that water losses remain below 20%). In 2017, 1.84 m3/s were being used for water supply and irrigation from more than 30 water accumulations in Serbia which accounts for about 20% of Central Serbia needs and way less than these accumulations hold or are intended to provide.
Water management projections in RS date from the 1970s and are based on exaggerated projections of demographical and industrial development and oversized per capita water consumption. The poor economic situation in the last 30 years resulted in prolonged construction of water accumulations and regional water supply systems. A number of operational water accumulations are not nearly used as planned and there are serious sanitary risks.
In 2014, RS has signed to underwent rigorous changes in its water sector due to the “screening” document between RS and EU. Changes were made in Legislation, however, no true progress in the sector has been underwent. Major problems are:
• Lack of coordination in water resource management between different governmental bodies.
• No official representative data on the available groundwater resources.
• Only 10% of the territory is covered with hydrogeological maps.
• National network for monitoring of groundwater resources covers less than half of the territory. Most of Central Serbia is poorly covered or only the “first” (alluvial) aquifer is being monitored.
• Only 14% of the population is being connected to wastewater treatment and 2.54% of industrial wastewater is treated. There are over 150 municipal landfills, and only 4 or 5 are sanitary valid.
• Water losses averages are between 30 and 40% with above 70% in some counties.
• The world and domestic experiences with the construction and management of water accumulations point to a high number of techno-economic and ecological risks, high costs of construction and maintenance, water eutrophication, geo-hazards and others.
Still, after all, there is continuing pressure for the use of this water supply concept in Central Serbia. The solution lays in finishing the remaining hydrogeological maps, establishing a GIS water portal and its integration in governmental plans, development of the national monitoring network, repairing of water piping systems and locating and assessment of groundwater reserves.