I've been writing a lot, and still do about the problems of waters, climate changes, landscape mostly from the aspect of hydrology, but also from the aspect of what science recognizes as bio-geography or, in a modern and narrow fashion, the eco-sphere.
As a consultant, expert in the area of landscape planning and analysis, calculations, especially in the area of hydro-climatology, as well as in the social-spatial effects of floods in the area of construction, calculating flood risks and drainage solutions; eco-spatial changes in forest, natural areas, floods in urban areas; I've worked and cooperated and still work in FAO (on a research projects), and cooperated with some universities...
In short, living space, biogenic and living elements of the Planet attach to the abiotic factors (climate, humidity, topography, geological-pedological-geomorphological conditions), but all of these are under the impact of anthropogenic factor.
Anthropogenic - human factor is extremely strong, fast and makes enormous changes not only on the surface of the Earth, but also in hydrosphere and some segments of atmosphere, and often does so not from biological or life needs, but from the economical ones.
The convenient caricature below gives a colorful explanation of it.
There is a series of evidences for this, based on the modern measurements and long-term (from geological to modern time-quality analysis), sampling of the materials, primarily ice and contents found inside, as well as sediments from water and soil, from which one can obtain concrete data about current bio-geographical conditions. So-called paleo-geographic modelling is often used for some analysis.
Unfortunately, admins of different eco-groups from Balkans often don't respond to my writings (they don't hear or don't see). This, of course, points to something or some state inside the groups or my completely inadequate writings.
One of the biggest problems is the protection of quality and quantity or surface running waters, but not smaller and not less serious problem is the protection of underground waters, limestone waters, and of course sea and ocean waters.
According to some, not fully affirmed data, and from well-known conditions, phenomena and effects, the problem of protection of quality of limestone waters is rather big. This problem is conditioned by geo-physical and geo-morphological features of the limestone, but also by geo-chemical conditions of the geological surface and polluters. Gaps in the limestone don't help too much in filtering the waters which come from surface and reach underground waters, which endangers the quality of underground waters more and more. At the same time, erosive vertical processes in the limestone increase, which leads to reduction of limestone springs and wells.
However, quality of the waters is heavily affected by wastewater (sewage, industry), indirect input of the waters from landfills, industrial landfills, industrial plants, as well as daily littering in the water courses, lakes, channels in such big amount that they create dams, which can have negative impact due to flooding.
People also tend to forget effects of the traffic, industry, household emissions into the atmosphere... Particles then act as condensation cores and fall back to the ground with rain (acid rains are not unfamiliar anymore).
One of the heavy polluters of the water is agriculture. Effects or consequences of the agricultural industry are well-known, defined and evidenced in the NW Europe - especially in Scandinavian countries, with negative effects stretching all the way to the sea basins (North Sea, Baltic Sea...) in such amount that they started endangering certain animal species.
Some of these problems are surely hard to be solved, but they are solvable, naturally, by applying needed knowledge, different expert profiles, finding new technical-technological solutions; that is, it is necessary to combine multi-expert and multi-disciplinary approach. This of course requires well-organized, directed and quality used financial funds.
However, special and frequently seen problem is cutting down and reducing forest cover, both globally and locally. Consequences are more frequent and stronger erosion, re-modelling or the surface, also caused by the onflow coefficient increase. That's not nearly all, though.
Forest disappearance also causes changes in water circulation and especially the increase of the insulation coefficient, i.e. warming of the ground, which results in multiple consequences like warming up of the ground and lower layers of atmosphere.
Not smaller, and often very negative effect is construction of hydro-accumulations and hydro-power plants. This problem has been studied, researched and well known all over the world! In the Western Balkans region, it becomes bigger and bigger problem.
Due to the energy demands, arrangements, plannings, a massive amount of SHPP (small hydro-power plants) has been build, which had visible impact on the hydro-biological conditions and changes in the landscape. Apart from the mentioned, overall impact of the SHPP on the entire live in the basin area is significant and mostly highly negative (I will not discuss in this article about bad choices of accumulations, barrier locations, bad technical solutions, etc.) There is a whole list of expert opinions, observations, opinions of the eco-activists, legal documents, photos showing the negative effects (I'd dare to say: especially in the protected areas of nature), in terms of destructive impact, not only on the nature, but also on the social segments, to the level of total limitation and stopping the development and preservation, in favor of destruction of bio-geographic segment - natural habitat, i.e. biotope.
When we talk about waters, there are very good, quality, known solutions for the questions of quality protection. One of the especially interesting questions and solutions is the so-called Water design.
Using the space; physical, spatial and urban planning is what matters when we talk about any water problems.
Many essays have been dedicated to the aspects for anti-flood constructions, intakes, planning, analysis, studies in Europe, especially during the past 5-6 years, with very good effects in Scandinavian countries, in the Netherlands, and many others, with visible, high quality results.
Climate changes - currently conditioned by the cyclone activities - more frequent rainfalls of high intensity, characterize current climate state.
Building appropriate protective objects which prevent or reduce the negative effects of floods is a special problem.
Changes in the way how the ground is used, how building is done are happening in Balkans these days (along with the already mentioned changes of the landscape and destruction of the natural bio-geographical borders or reshaping the same). The growth of urban and other construction shapes and objects without respecting the nature, cause negative effects in the area of protection from water. Those would be floods and specific shapes of erosion - the mudslides.
One of the elementary problems is building objects, the whole settlements in the inundation zones (natural flooding plateaus) is one of the basic problems, causing the decrease of the capacity of the water courses and series of objects act like special dams, which naturally causes the growth of water level, channeling, appearance of whirlpools...
Apart from that, actions which reduce the capacity of the river bed are clearly visible, which cause congestion and floods. Landfills of different materials, inadequate throughput of smaller bridges, to small diameter of the road infrastructure drains...
Inadequate locations of objects, poor planning and lousy construction works can cause not only floods, but also damage existing objects and ground.
Perhaps the biggest additional problem of the Western Balkans is lack of maintenance of the river beds, melioration systems and objects, no maintenance of the road drains, outlet objects, which inevitably brings very expensive, sometimes even catastrophic consequences.
So, it's all about complex problems of using the available space, absence of the proper anti-flood works and solutions, which on top of already mentioned problems (depositing waste in the river beds) contributes to the increase of the negative effects of floods, and intensification of the influence of the flood effects on the coastal areas.
Back in 2014, the area of Western Balkans has suffered great damage caused by the floods. What kind of damage? How big the damage was?... Apart from the newspapers and Wikipedia data (and the attached documents), I don't have any official data about aid provided by the EU or the world.
However, the last flood this year we also waited unprepared. It looks like, so to say - that terrestrial causes of the floods were not eliminated. Completely different approach to solving the existing problems is necessary, as well as adequate actions planned based on the real events and their consequences.,,
We can differentiate between several types of floods, yet I will only quote the EU directive:
“Floods Directive of the European Union defines flood as covering with water ground which is not normally covered with water.”
Regardless of the type of flood, a whole series of accompanying problems is linked to them, which cause great material damage, but also other losses, including losing lives.
Unfortunately, mudslides represent great danger in the area of Western Balkans. Except from the great knowledge and experience, what is also needed is permanent work on planning, analysis, concrete actions on mudslide stabilization, terrain stabilization... It is hard to say how many active mudslides are there, but it is possible to know exactly how many kilometres of roads has been damaged, and how many residential or economic facilities has been damaged or destroyed.
Flooded parts of Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, in spite of the investment works:
Author: Nikola Kolja Jagarić,
consultant/expert of the spatial-physical planning in the area of hydro-climatology