Joining forces within the IUCN’s “Institutional support for Protected Areas in Albania” project, experts are currently assessing the water resources status in the Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park. “The first results of our monitoring show generally good chemical status in the majority of sampled water bodies. Some problems occur in the downstream areas, where we can notice effects of the urbanization, the lack of solid waste management system and wastewater treatment plants,” says Matteo Rossi, IUCN’s expert.
- How can your team support the IUCN project?
Mr. Rossi: Considering the importance of water resources for living ecosystems and for biodiversity itself, the purpose of my team is to assess the environmental status of water in the Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park. In this framework, with the involvement of many collaborators, we are aiming to assess qualitatively and quantitatively the status of the most significant water sources in the protected area, like springs, rivers and lakes. Our task involves monitoring activities in situ, water samples collection, lab analysis and raw data elaboration, following specific protocols and methodologies.
- What can you tell us about the water resources of the Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park?
Mr. Rossi: Due to the geomorphological features and the climatic conditions of the area, the water resources such as springs and streams are abundant in this National Park. Depending on local geological features, some areas are characterized by important infiltration rates, giving birth to huge springs often used for drinking or irrigation purposes. All the groundwater coming out through the springs and joining the surface runoff generate important streams and rivers like the Lunikut, the Qarrishta and the Bushtrica. The first results of our monitoring show generally good chemical status in the majority of sampled water bodies. Some problems occur in the downstream areas, where we can notice effects of the urbanization, the lack of solid waste management system and wastewater treatment plants. A significant presence of hydropower plants, already built or under construction, is an important issue. Entering the National Park area one can notice pipelines exploiting many springs in the highest areas by delivering the water to the power plants. It is also easy to find many hydropower plants, built in series and exploiting the same river on different levels, like the Qarrishta River for example.
- Which are the main challenges related to the water resources management in the Shebenik-Jabllanicë National Park?
Mr. Shermadhi, a local collaborator: Erosion and illegal and destructive fishing methods are the main problems when it comes to water management. In addition the construction of hydropower plants if not accurately planned and operated - as often occurs in our region, can significantly affect water biodiversity and can seriously threaten the survival of several species and of entire ecosystems.
Mr. Rossi: One of the water management problems is surely a lack of infrastructure, like sewage or wastewater treatment systems, posing a threat to the ecosystems depending on downstream water bodies. The policies on hydropower plants construction inside the national park should be revised: such activity will probably soon pose a threat to the water resources and the depending ecosystems. In addition, the geomorphological features of the Park cause a significant diffuse susceptibility to hydrogeological instability with specific reference to landslides phenomena: this should be taken into account when planning the area use, with specific reference to policies aimed at decreasing the hydrogeological risk.
Prepared by Mirjan Topi, PPNEA