Water quality monitoring scientists from the three sides of the Prespa basin met in Stenje (North Macedonia), in October 2019, to build on the cross-border cooperation initiative taken a year ago on the other side of the lake. The workshop aimed to further promote the dialogue and joint work that was set off in Laimos last autumn and was organised by the Society for the Protection of Prespa (SPP) with the support of the Municipality of Resen and funding from PONT.
Water is the most vital natural resource in Prespa, shared by Albania, Greece and North Macedonia, and monitoring programmes concerning its quality are underway on all three sides of the basin. Nevertheless, as networks, practices and capacities vary between the countries, a reliable picture of the water quality status basin-wide is missing. The harmonisation of water monitoring systems is the primary factor for sustainable management of water resources within the basin’s natural boundaries, and to this end the SPP promotes communication among specialists in this field across the basin.
The first gathering of scientists affiliated with the state water monitoring systems and experienced with the provisions of the EU policy was held at the SPP premises in Laimos in November 2018. At that meeting, the experts decided to enhance their interaction and work together for the establishment of a common classification system to monitor water quality in Prespa. To this end, electronic networking tools have subsequently been used to facilitate dialogue, information sharing and involvement in joint work.
At the recent workshop held at the water monitoring station in Stenje, scientists were given the opportunity to come together once again, improve capacity and deepen discussions for the alignment of water monitoring in Prespa. During the field session, water measurements were conducted with equipment brought by different institutions, and experts exchanged know-how and experience on the practices and methodologies used in each littoral state. Through the discussion that followed, the scientists agreed upon a series of actions, including the development of a common sampling strategy and the implementation of a pilot transboundary monitoring exercise that would provide data and input for the harmonisation of water monitoring in Prespa.
The periodical meetings and the ongoing communication between the experts encourage the building of trust and advance their transboundary water monitoring efforts. This preparatory work is expected to provide the foundation for the formal interstate cooperation that will follow the recent entering into force of the International Agreement for the Prespa Park.
Machi Solaki, Society for the Protection of Prespa
Daphne Mantziou, Society for the Protection of Prespa, Freshwater policy officer,