Donji Vakuf, 4 July 2017 – The first stage of the eco rafting regatta from Donji Vakuf to Torlakovac is a continuation of the Clean Vrbas Initiative implementation.
Members of the RC Kanjon (Kanyon), Dabar (Beaver) and Jajce shall, together with the army forces of Bosnia and Herzegovina, clean banks and the river beds of the Vrbas and the Pliva in the following four days. ‘The goal is to revive the Clean Vrbas project, thanks to which miles of river, running through a dozen of local communities, have been cleaned in the last ten years or so’, Alakesandar Pastir, a President of the RC Kanjon stated.
“The Vrbas River has proved to be our life, the Vrbas is something constant, we are all practically part of this Initiative, citizens themselves put a positive pressure on all the institutions and here we are today once again calling for the Initiative. Mayors have already agreed on future steps, and in the next four days, we are going to collect some of the waste.”
Prior to eco regatta, the Initiative meeting was held, and representative of the local communities from the Vrbas basin attended it. “The epilogue of the meeting are concrete proposals, since all the local communities of the upper Vrbas face different issues, and our goal is to protect the river, which represents the life for all our communities”, Huso Sušić, a mayor of the Donji Vakuf municipality, and the host of the meeting, said.
“We have prepared all of the documentation for the construction of a recycling centre and by building a regional landfill the full significance of the project would come to light. As a result the regatta could transition from an eco-regatta into a tourist regatta. Only then would we be able to showcase our potential”, said Sušić.
“Banja Luka has, as a local community, achieved the most regarding the protection of the basin and the banks of the Vrbas. However, a lot of work still needs to be done, most importantly wastewater collection”, Dragan Banjac, acting mayor of the Education, Health, the Youth and Sport Department of Banja Luka, said.
“Some issues still exist, primarily issues regarding sewage infrastructure, and wastewater plants, and Banja Luka is facing a lot of work in the following period, however the citizens and all stakeholders all are finally fully aware of the work. I hope we shall start the implementation of the wastewater treatment project as soon as possible and, in the next five to ten years, we shall be able to finish the work on the Vrbas and its potential management, and start really living on the banks of the river”, Banjac said.
In addition to the Vrbas basin, the Pliva basin will be cleaned as well. This sends a clear message that all the rivers in the Vrbas basin need to be cleaned.
“Even though the title of the program is Clean Vrbas, the Pliva river as one of the largest tributaries of the Vrbas, is an equally important part of the project”, Marko Savičić, a deputy mayor of Šipovo municipality, said.
Protecting the Vrbas River and sustainable exploitation of its tourist and economic potentials are the main objectives of the Clean Vrbas Initiative. Its main partner is the Coca‑Cola HBC B-H Sarajevo company, and the Initiative is implemented by the RC Kanjon.
“We are extremely proud that Coca‑Cola HBC B-H has been one of the main partners of the Clean Vrbas Initiative for seven years now, and, together with other partners, contributes to protecting the Vrbas River and raising awareness regarding the importance of water stewardship”, Saša Kukolj the RSM for the Banja Luka region of the Coca‑Cola HBC B-H, said, noting that caring for water is one of Coca‑Cola priorities on a global and local level, and the efforts made in this field target three areas: reducing water consumption in production processes, wastewater treatment, with the purpose or effect that the treated water is safe for plant and animal life and can be released directly into nature, and supporting projects within the community with the water stewardship as the objective. “We are especially proud because the efforts we have been making and the results achieved are recognised and the Coca‑Cola HBC B-H is the first company in Bosnia and Herzegovina to be awarded the golden European Water Stewardship Certificate for the excellence in this field by the European Water Partnership, a European agency for water management and protection”, Kukolj said, noting that the Coca‑Cola Hellenic Group is the leading company in sustainable business in the non-alcoholic drinks industry and the results achieved by the Company in Bosnia and Herzegovina have contributed to this success.
Activities continue tomorrow, with the second stage of the eco regatta at the Torlakovac – Jajce route. Cleaning the Pliva River, between Sokočnica and Šipovo is planned on Thursday. The ecological part of the project will be concluded on Friday, when the participants will clean the Pliva River from Šipovo to Jezero.
The closing event, Tourist Vrbas Regatta, will take place on 12 August, from Krupa on Vrbas to Banja Luka.
In May 2013, in Donji Vakuf, a Charter for Clean Vrbas was signed by the town and local community mayors in the Vrbas basin: Banja Luka, Laktaši, Srbac, Kneževo, Kotor-Varoš, Mrkonjić Grad, Šipovo Jezero, Donji Vakuf, Gornji Vakuf – Uskoplje, Bugojno and Jajce, and the representatives of the relevant ministries from both entities, as well as the Environmental Protection Fund FBiH, the Environmental Protection and Energy Efficiency Fund of the RS and project partners: the Coca‑Cola HBC B-H d.o.o. Sarajevo company, the United Nations Development Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNDP) and the Government of Japan.
Entity and cantonal ministers, mayors and representatives of 13 municipalities of the Vrbas river basin, representatives of environmental funds and agencies, as well as partners signed the Charter on Clean Vrbas in Donji Vakuf thus marking the official beginning of the third phase of the “Clean Vrbas - Vrbas River Basin Environment Protection and Tourism Development Programme”.