The Drina River is normally known for its emerald green color. In 346 kilometers, it winds through the mountainous area of the Bosnian-Montenegrin border, through eastern Bosnia and along the Bosnian-Serb border in the north. A paradise for fishermen and rafters, described with admiration by the writer Ivo Andrić.
Drone footage released by the AP news agency on Saturday, however, shows a whole different side of the Drina. Some 10,000 cubic meters of waste has accumulated behind a barrier in the river near the Bosnian town of Višegrad. The water is full of plastic bottles, rusty barrels, car tires and household appliances.
In winter and early spring, there is normally a lot of precipitation in the Drina basin. These showers were earlier and heavier than usual this year. And with the water comes the waste in Višegrad: coming from the mountains, they pass the many illegal dumps in the region, carrying the waste collected there to the river.
“We’ve had a lot of rain and flash floods in the past few days, and a huge influx of water from Montenegro, which luckily is decreasing now,” Dejan Furtula, a spokesperson for a local environmental organization, told AFP. AP news agency. “Unfortunately, the huge influx of waste has not stopped.”
The shared waste management system of Montenegro, Serbia and Bosnia and Herzegovina in the river basin is very inefficient. Resources are lacking, but an increase in the waste tax is unpopular. Local residents and waste handlers would also dump their waste into the river themselves.
Hydroelectric power plant
The Višegrad barrier was built by the hydroelectric power station about 3 kilometers upstream from the city. After all, waste in the water is not only harmful to nature, it can also hamper the operation of the plant.
Employees of central and local residents annually remove 6-8 thousand cubic meters of garbage from the water, but this is far from enough to keep the river clean during the “garbage season”. The waste they remove from the water also ends up in the municipal landfill. It “does not even have sufficient capacity to process municipal waste”, according to Furtula. He calls the situation “not only a huge environmental and health hazard, but also a great embarrassment for all of us”.
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