The Institute for Environmental Policy (Albania) and Grashnica Ohrid (Macedonia), have implemented parallel projects for introducing new ways of water protection and water management in the Lake Ohrid basin in Albania and Macedonia during 2014-2015; the two parallel projects were financed by Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund (CEPF). Projects were implemented in the framework of climate change effects that will affect the area of Lake Ohrid basin.
The conclusions from our projects showed that Lake Ohrid basin is an area with relatively small population, but with big and urgent problems that mostly stem from lack of awareness on solutions and best methods tried elsewhere, which has been successful in minimizing water wasting and water pollution.
1. In order to minimize water use from agriculture in the area, and minimize pollution that goes in Ohrid Lake, we recommend to the local authorities and farmer the introduction and use of drip irrigation, a technique which will save a lot of water which is now taken from streams that feed Ohrid Lake (and sometimes directly from Ohrid Lake), and minimize run off, which sends loads of nutrients and other chemicals to the lake, thus creating eutrophication and pollution. Drip irrigation is an affordable technique, with savings being bigger than the effect that traditional way of irrigation through open canals has on the environment and ecosystems.
2. We recommend the use of constructed wetlands for wastewater in small populated areas or settlements, where the amount of polluted water is not big and can be treated using wetlands which will minimize or eliminate the extra pollutants and nutrients which now empty directly in Ohrid Lake. Constructed wetlands are a cheap and natural way of filtering wastewater, and also they are a way to create ecosystems and biomass. The costs of building wetlands are low and affordable for area of Ohrid Lake.
3. We recommend and urge the local and central authorities to do more to prevent pollution from solid waste, especially plastic waste, which is harming the ecosystems and the lake, posing threats not only to biodiversity, but also to the health of people and preventing the development of further tourism in some areas. We urge the local authorities to implement the “stick and carrot” method, by doing more on awareness raising on littering and on implementing stringent measures for those that litter.
4. We recommend to the international donors and to local authorities of Lake Ohrid basin from Albania and Macedonia, to support more youth exchange initiatives related to exchanging of experiences and awareness raising on protecting the lake, as a unique patrimony shared between the two countries.
The full position paper can be read here
This publication is financially supported by Birdlife International and DOPPS, through the Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund, in the frame of “Developing Sustainable Water Management Practices to Conserve Environmental Flow In Ohrid Lake Region” project.
“The Critical Ecosystem Partnership Fund is a joint initiative of l’Agence Française de Développement, Conservation International, the European Union, the Global Environment Facility, the Government of Japan, the MacArthur Foundation and the World Bank. A fundamental goal is to ensure civil society is engaged in biodiversity conservation.”