According to architect Dragoljub Bakić, a member of the Serbian Academy of Architecture, Belgrade’s wastewater flows directly into the Danube and its tributary Sava in more than 200 places; faeces, dead fish, and garbage of all kinds float in Europe’s second-largest river, and waste accumulates in Serbia’s capital, which is also the river’s largest polluter throughout its course.
A few days ago, faeces in the Danube stopped German chemist Andreas Fat, who had embarked on a nearly 3,000-kilometre-swim to take water samples along its course for analysis by a team of scientists from the University of Vienna. Fat swam all the way to Belgrade and then gave up because of the faeces.
“The problem is not only that sewage flows into the Danube, but also that Belgrade has thousands of septic tanks. The entire left bank of the Danube has no sewage system, as well as parts of Dedinje and Vračar, so those pits are emptied, taken away, and poured into the river. The Sava has over 100 and the Danube over 130 sewage outflows. We are the only capital city in Europe that does not have a wastewater treatment factory,” Bakić explains.
Serbia also has tonnes of construction waste and no space for its disposal. “Glass wool, lead, plaster…Every construction site is contaminated. This waste is dumped in illegal landfills, and in Belgrade alone there are more than 500. Developers buy land and pay for the dumping of construction debris, usually close to someone’s garden, orchard and the like. We should recycle the debris on the construction site itself. Real estate developers can’t be bothered to do this, they are only interested in building a complex of buildings as soon as possible, completing the project and moving on to the next one. They are not developers, but manipulators,” Bakić adds.
Major sewage discharges begin at the Ada Bridge, where the Topčiderska River flows through the outlet near the Gazela Bridge and over the part of the promenade, from the Belgrade Waterfront to Ada Huja. In addition, the Topčiderska River, which flows through the neighbourhoods of Dedinje and Rakovica, has been turned into a collector of faecal water and industrial pollution. The river ends in Čukarica creek, known for its unpleasant smell, garbage, and even dead fish corpses floating on the surface. The water then flows from the Čukarica creek onto the Sava river, with most of the sewage discharging under the Gazela Bridge, where faecal waters are concentrated near Kumodraž and Voždovac, on the one side, and on the other side, near Veliki Mokri Lug and Mali Mokri Lug, through to Učiteljsko Naselje and Crveni Krst.
The main faecal outlet for Novi Beograd and Zemun is also on the Danube side in Novi Beograd, at the mouth of the Sava, along the quay where there is the Karadjordjev Trg pumping station, the main resource for pumping wastewater generated in this part of the city into the Danube.
A 2019 study conducted by Austrian university scientists showed that the Danube River is polluted with faeces along its course through Serbia, Romania and Bulgaria. The situation is particularly critical in Novi Sad and Belgrade, where the presence of Escherichia Coli bacteria in the water is extremely high. The deputy mayor of Belgrade, Goran Vesić, said earlier that there are as many as 100 direct sewage outflows in Belgrade, tantamount to 60,000 Olympic-sized pools of faeces that end up in rivers each year.
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