Andriy Kulko. International legal cooperation between the states of the Danube River Basin in the field of utilization and protection of transboundary groundwater
The author analyzed the formation, current state and problems of international legal regulation of relations between the states of the Danube River Basin on the utilization and protection of aquifers in the basin. The author pointed out contemporary challenges in the field of development, protection and conservation of these natural objects; analyzed the content of the main international legal norms concerning the utilization and protection of groundwater in the Danube River Basin.
The 1994 Convention on Cooperation for the Protection and Sustainable Use of the Danube River imposes an obligation on States to establish inventory of groundwater resources and protected areas; to prevent the pollution of groundwater resources by hazardous substances; to reduce the risk of accidental pollution implementing preventive and control measures. It is important that the norms of Convention cover most types of planned measures and activities that have or may have transboundary impact; provide for the suspension of the projects that may have negative impact on groundwater, before the conclusion of consultations; regulate the activities of the International Commission on the Protection of the Danube.
In the course of the implementation of the Danube River Basin Management Plan for 2009–2015 the states have created new water supply systems and adopted regulatory acts for groundwater bodies of high importance, and according to the Danube River Basin Management Plan for 2015–2021, the Commission has developed a program aimed at balancing water utilization, taking into account conceptual models for specific groundwater bodies.
In the author’s opinion, the main problems in the utilization and protection of transboundary groundwater of the Danube basin include: a) organic pollution, contamination by nutrients and hazardous substances, hydromorphological changes in groundwater bodiess of the Danube basin; b) the incompatibility of the state of groundwater with the requirements of the Water Framework Directive; c) the lack of knowledge on the natural characteristics of groundwater in the Danibe River Basin and the negative impact of economic activities; d) the absence of international treaties aimed at regulation of the utilization of groundwater in the Danube River Basin and reconciling the rights and interests of the parties; e) the inefficiency of groundwater management because states acoord precedence to the development of the economy and don’t pay necessary attention to the protection of water from pollution; e) the shortcomings of the 1994 Danube Convention, i.e. the insufficiency of norms regulating the Danube Basin groundwater protection for responding to the current challenges; f) failure to provide integrated groundwater management and the shortcomings of Danube Basin Management Plan for 2015–2021; e) specific problems of transboundary groundwater bodies in the basin.
Key words: Danube River Basin, transboundary groundwater, Convention on the Protection of the Danube River, International Commission for the Protection of the Danube, River Basin Management Plan.