ZAGREB — With 1,800 kilometers of coastline on the Adriatic Sea, Croatia is a very popular tourist destination situated between central and eastern Europe. The country straddles the borders of the Danube Basin and the Adriatic, with rivers flowing in from international destinations.
Noted for its stunning beaches, beautiful waterfalls, colorful lakes and ecological diversity, Croatia possesses unevenly distributed yet abundant portions of both surface and groundwater. The country is considered to be one of the most bio-diverse in Europe due to its strategic location between the Mediterranean region and the Central European continental area.
Water quality in Croatia is generally good, with 82 percent of Croatians having access to the public water supply and 46 percent having access to the public sewage systems. According to the European Environment Agency’s 2016 annual report, the sea bathing water quality in Croatia was deemed to be one of the best in Europe.
Water efficiency is not as on par. In 2012, for instance, losses in the public water supply system in the country were estimated to be upwards of 48 percent. Since 1986, Croatian beaches have been tested for swimming water quality. Croatia has passed with flying colors, tying with Cyprus and Malta, as the top three places for best water quality.
For instance, on May 2017, out of the 781 beaches tested in the country, 776, or 99.36 percent of them, were declared ‘excellent’ quality. Five beaches, comprising of less than 1 percent, came back with ‘good’ or ‘sufficient’ results. Significantly, no beaches fell under the ‘poor’ category.
Unfortunately, there are no legal obligations in place to identify potentially or actually contaminated sites. The risk is thought to be addressed and minimized preventatively via European Union legislation, much of which has been introduced into Croatian legislation scheme. This includes the Directive on Waste Disposal as well as the Water Framework Directive.
However, the absence of a systematic identification or even recognition of polluted sites is troubling. Water quality in Croatia cannot be meaningfully addressed in these conditions.
While the tap water quality in Croatia is good, the presence of heavy metals and pesticides in the drinking water in Zagreb has previously been reported. This report, however, has been disputed by at least one local news media outlet, the Croatia Times. Some municipalities in Croatia contain single closed drainage systems, whereby sewer systems have combined storm and sanitary water due to a lack of communal infrastructure. This causes the wastewater to leach into the groundwater and cause further contamination.
Water quality in Croatia stands to further improve if water is seen as a valuable natural resource. Water already sustains the country’s aquatic ecosystem and livelihood of Croats. Water is used for all kinds of industrial, agricultural and urban purposes. Croatia is also able to manage its water resources by cooperating with neighboring countries.
As a great vacation destination, Croatia can continue to reaffirm its established international reputation by not only maintaining safe water quality levels but also making its water usage more efficient.
– Mohammed Khalid