Project monitors mountainous watersheds and streams to mitigate pollution in the Black Sea


A new project financed by the European Union aims to reduce pollution in the Black Sea by monitoring pollutants and litter in mountainous streams and watersheds.

The "Protect Streams 4 Sea" project focuses on joint environmental monitoring of nonpoint source pollutants and litter. It aims to mitigate such pollutants from entering the Black Sea in an effort to prevent pollution from happening, rather than dealing with its aftermath once it is present in the landlocked body of water.

Most cleaning efforts to reduce pollution in the Black Sea focus on the sea itself or on coastal areas. Until now, attention has not been given to the watersheds leading to the Black Sea, despite their carrying a high quantity of pollutants and litter.
The project will use traditional methods along with innovative methods to correlate the origins of pollutants typically generated at higher landscape positions with the pollutants in stream water and streambeds at lower elevations.

“Mitigating pollutants in mountainous streams can help reduce pollution in the Black Sea,” said George Zaimes, the Protect Streams 4 Sea project coordinator and Associate Professor at the International Hellenic University.

Protect Streams 4 Sea is financed by the European Union through the European Neighbourhood Instrument Cross-Border Cooperation, in the framework of the Black Sea Basin Joint Operational Programme. Project partners include the International Hellenic University in Greece (lead partner), the Buzau-Ialomita River Basin Water Administration in Romania, the Young Foresters Union in Armenia, the Eco-TIRAS International Association of River Keepers in the Republic of Moldova, and Artvin Coruh University in Turkey.

The project’s pilot areas are located in five countries along the Black Sea: Debed River Basin, Armenia; Aggitis River Basin, Greece; Baltata River Basin, Republic of Moldova; Buzau River Basin and Siriu Reservoir, Romania; and Arhavi River Basin, Turkey.

Based on the outcomes of the monitoring activities, taking place between July 2020 and July 2022, best management practices will be developed that will focus on nature-based solutions (e.g. riparian buffers, wetland and reforestation) in mountainous areas to reduce nonpoint source pollutants and litter from surrounding watersheds from reaching the Black Sea.

The project also seeks to improve regional cooperation on environmental monitoring and management between public authorities, non-governmental organizations and stakeholders involved in disaster prevention (e.g. water quality, floods and soil erosion). The Protect Streams Neighbourhood Network has been established and regularly meets online.

Additionally, awareness raising events are being organized in the pilot areas to promote collaboration, training, knowledge, creativity and fun for stakeholders and especially youth.

More information on the project is available here. For updates, follow Protect Streams 4 Sea on social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and YouTube.

News by George Zaimes and Paschalis Koutalakis, GERi Lab, International Hellenic University

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