After the heavy rainfall and the high water levels in January, it was no surprise to find a lot of garbage on the banks of the Zeta River these days. We know that we have to clean up our property in Rogami each year and make it ready for the warmer season, when we can sit under the trees and admire the emerald green river flowing slowly to the place where it confluences into the Morača River. The river bank… that is the place where we relax and enjoy listening to the birds and observing the frogs, and sometimes we even see water snakes and fish swimming under the water surface.
But this winter it became clear that the Zeta River is getting more and more polluted. A big trunk was stuck under an overhanging tree and a large garbage island had been formed in the river (photo 1). What could we do? Wait until August, the month when the water level is low and a possible cleaning action would be organized? Just stay away from the dirty river in the most beautiful season? No, we had to find a solution…
Our friend Mladen, who has spent his whole life on the Zeta River, offered to help us. He made a kind of improvised “bridge” and his first step was to cut the overhanging tree (photo 2). But when he tried to start the “cleaning action”, a terrible smell stunned him. And you know where it came from? A dead sheep was stuck in the garbage and made it impossible to continue …
Fortunately, after a few rainy days the smell – and the sheep – disappeared. So we waited for a bright windy day and began to work. Mladen put the “bridge” between the shore and the cut tree trunk and, armed with a long metal hook, he started to clean up the mess (photo 3). It is really unbelievable that people throw so much litter into the river: plastic bags full of garbage, plastic and glass bottles, old shoes, textile, empty spray bottles, cans (photo 4)… and let’s not forget – a dead cat!
Mladen was jumping between the floating trunks and only he knows how he succeeded in keeping his balance (photo 5 and 6). Paul succeeded in dragging a lot of litter out of the water, while branches and trunks were pushed by Mladen towards the middle of the river, from where they floated downstream (photo 7). It was a hell of a job! But most garbage was removed, the “island” disappeared and I am sure that we will be able to enjoy our favorite place on the river bank this spring (photo 8)!
But … in this way, we have only resolved our own problem. I know that the Zeta River is one of the most polluted rivers in Montenegro. The people who live along the river often use it as waste disposal. Other sources of pollution are sewage, industry, chicken and pig farms. NGO Green Home and NGO Green River Zeta organize annual cleaning actions in August, supported by the Municipality of Danilovgrad. But is this enough? Of course, education of the population is extremely important. I believe that also fines, collected by a kind of ecological police, would be effective.
By the way, Article 19 of the Montenegrin Constitution says: “Everyone shall have the right to a healthy environment”. But who is responsible for the implementation of this article?