A long-term project aimed at cleaning the Vrbas River from its source to its mouth, has begun with the organisation of the Eco Vrbas Regatta and the cleaning up the river banks.
As a sign of support for the project, the event was attended by the heads of eight municipalities belonging to the Vrbas River basin – Uskoplje / Gornji Vakuf, Bugojno, Donji Vakuf, Jajce, Mrkonjić Grad, Kneževo / Skender Vakuf, Laktaši and Srbac – and the mayor of Banja Luka.
The Coca‑Cola System in Bosnia and Herzegovina is a partner of the on-going initiative which is intended to help clean up the Vrbas River and eventually prevent pollution of all other rivers in the country, too. The ambitious plan, which is being is implemented together with the UNDP and the local community, is considered the first joint effort to clean the Vrbas River.
Over time, the goal of the Clean Vrbas project is to serve as a model for preservation of all other river basins in the country and the region, improving the lives of people, boosting the potential for tourism and economy, and ensuring continued sustainability of the environment.
Dragoljub Davidović, the mayor of Banja Luka, said, “This is a useful initiative that should be used to also include other institutions which are interested in active project participation. The value of this project is the fact that it is the first in a series of joint efforts planned by the local communities belonging to the Vrbas River basin through their united application for EU funds.
Members from three rafting clubs, Kanjon from Banja Luka, Jajce from Jajce and Dabar from Gornji Vakuf/Uskoplje, participated in the Regatta and joined forces with inhabitants of local communities in cleaning up the river bed and banks, and in identifying pollution sites along the entire river – all 234 kilometers. More than 500 people took part in the Regatta. Together, they rallied under the event's slogan Let's Clean Vrbas from its Source to its Mouth and removed two tonnes of litter from the most polluted areas.
To reinforce the anti-pollution message of the project, the project partners held a ceremony for the installation of the first wastewater purifier along the waterway, in Krupa na Vrbasu.
Speaking at the inauguration of the biological wastewater purifier Mircea Draja, General Director of Coca‑Cola HBC B-H, stated that clean and good water is a long-term solution for the Vrbas River.
Nisvet Hrnjić, Head of Jajce municipality, emphasised that the task of all nine municipalities is a serious one in relation to the pollution problem and that the final goal is to make Vrbas River clean. “The project constitutes only the first part of agreement between local communities, and further projects related to addressing this issue are expected,” he said. “Water is the resource for our future, and our joint goal is to protect it by preserving Vrbas River.”
As part of activities associated with the the Vrbas cleaning project, Coca‑Cola HBC B-H has initiated an educational process that it intends to continue over the coming next three years in order to raise awareness about the need for protection and preservation of water resources.
By partnering on the Clean Vrbas project, Bosnia and Herzegovina has joined 11 other Coca‑Cola Hellenic countries participating in the Danube River protection project which commenced in 2005, and is actively supported by Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Slovenia and the Czech Republic. The Vrbas, as a tributary of the Sava River, is an indirect tributary of the Danube.
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