Within the 35th Session of the International Sava River Basin Commission (ISRBC), the representatives of the national hydrological and meteorological services (NHMSs) of the Sava River Basin countries (Slovenia, Croatia, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Montenegro and Serbia) met in Ljubljana (Slovenia) to sign the “Policy on the Exchange of Hydrological and Meteorological Data and Information in the Sava River Basin”.
The signature of the Policy represents the final step of the process initiated by the NHMSs and launched in 2013 within the framework of the multi-beneficiary IPA/2012/290552 project “Building resilience to disasters in Western Balkans and Turkey” (implemented by WMO and ISDR with funding from the EU). In this project, through the review of existing practices and the development of enhanced procedures, the improvement of data collection and exchange among the countries of the Sava River Basin was identified as the key target.
The first meeting of country representatives took place in Zagreb on 6-7 June 2013 and the participants agreed on a series of actions to achieve this result. The actions were the following:
- development of a data exchange policy for the Sava River Basin
- improvement of the existing data exchange system
- coordination and harmonization of measurements at border stations
- upgrade of the existing hydrological and hydraulic models.
More specifically, the development of a data exchange policy was perceived as a necessary tool to facilitate the implementation of the provision of Article 4 of the FASRB, and to gather the provisions on data and information exchange already existing under various bilateral agreements under a single common and coherent framework.
Furthermore, the adoption of such a policy presents an opportunity to translate the provisions of the WMO Resolutions 25 (Cg-XIII) and 40 (Cg-XII) on the international exchange of hydrological and meteorological data and information into an operational tool.
The ISRBC and its member states have been cooperating closely with WMO to develop such a document, assisted by an international consultant, H. Dixon, from the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology and member of the WMO RA VI Working Group on Climate and Hydrology. During the drafting process, the policy was reviewed by the Expert Group for hydrological and meteorological issues, as well as by all permanent expert groups of the ISRBC.
The policy provides the technical and conceptual principles, based on the spirit of WMO Res. 25 (Cg-XIII) and 40 (Cg-XII), required to promote data exchange and interoperability within the Sava River Basin and ensuring freedom to access and disseminate data and information for the purposes of sustainable trans-boundary water management in the basin.
While recognizing that, in some cases, the availability and exchange of data may be limited by current extent of the monitoring programmes or by the prevailing national rules, the policy provides the list of stations whose data the signatories are ready to exchange, as well as the list of the measured parameters to be exchanged and their temporal resolution.
Apart from the current signatory organizations (NHMSs, water agencies), the policy is open to all institutions in the Sava countries, such as hydropower agencies, that maintain hydrological and meteorological data collection programmes. By doing so, it ensures that the greatest number of data producers and users can benefit from free and unrestricted information exchange. Following the recent signing by the Agency for Environmental Protection (Serbia), the Sava River Watershed Agency (Bosnia and Herzegovina) has confirmed that it will also sign the policy in the near future.