As a result of several years of work with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, under the leadership of the NGOs Green Home and WWF, a new by-law on Ecologically-acceptable surface water flow (e-flow) was adopted by the Montenegrin Parliament in January.
The so-called “Ecologically-acceptable surface water flow” is the amount of water that is left in an aquatic ecosystem, or released into it, for the specific purpose of maintaining or achieving a good ecological condition.
‘’Ecologically-acceptable surface water flow concept is a way to account nature as one of the water users. This is to secure the services that those ecosystems usually provide for free and that are often neglected, like water purification and flood protection‘’, said Nataša Kovačević, NGO Green Home executive director.
To establish the best methodology for Montenegro and develop a ‘Rulebook’ – a series of rules and regulations – Green Home and WWF engaged a multidisciplinary team of experts. They developed a general procedure and methodology for ecologically acceptable flow assessment which was later transformed into a by-law proposal.
“The previous water law was prescribing a ‘biological minimum’, which required releasing 10% of average minimum water flow of the total water amount downstream of water barriers. This approach does not take into any account seasonal flow variations, and the real needs of downstream biocenosis and fish species”, said Francesca Antonelli, freshwater manager for WWF Mediterranean.
This is an important step towards fulfilling the requirements of Water Framework Directive to maintain or achieve good ecological condition of freshwater resources in Montenegro. Furthermore it contributes to implementing the goal of Ramsar Resolution 12 on “protecting the water requirements of wetlands for the present and the future” adopted by the 12th Ramsar Conference held last year in Uruguay. Montenegro is together with Mexico (the proponent of this Resolution), one of the first countries to legally protect and promote the water requirements of wetlands by law and ecosystems-based approach.
“This ecosystems-based approach enhances the sustainability of water management at a national level, and should be extended not only to Ramsar sites which are Wetlands of International Importance, and to nationally protected areas, but also to major artificially created wetland ecosystems which are not yet protected, such as the Ulcinj Saltpans”, said Ania Grobicki, Acting Secretary General of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands.
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Francesca Antonelli, WWF Mediterranean, firstname.lastname@example.org
Nataša Kovačević, Green Home, email@example.com
Pictures credit Milan Radisics WWF