Romania: The Prut Basin wide-approach for nutrient reduction and cross border cooperation (#273)

The Prut River is subjected to cross border pollution. Action was taken by the Eco-Counselling Center to initiate a project to facilitate a regional, trans-boundary approach, to enable the multi-stakeholders involvement and to ensure transparency and participation on the Draft Prut River Management Plan. This case highlights an applicable approach to improving water policy and management through stakeholder integration and cross-border cooperation.


The Prut River, the last major tributary of the Danube before the Danube Delta. Its basin area is 28,395 km2, and covers parts of the Ukraine, northeastern Romania, and eastern Moldova. Problems of cross border pollution require a wide range of actions concerned with developing new approaches.

In October 2004, the Eco-Counselling Center, Galati Romania, initiated the project to facilitate a regional, trans-boundary approach, enable the multi stakeholders involvement; ensure transparency and participation on the Draft Prut River Management Plan to be developed by the governmental experts. The objective of the project was to raise awareness on nutrients, other toxic substances and their negative effects on ecosystems, human health, within the Prut River catchment area, on both banks.

In addition, the project objectives included:

  • To support nutrient reduction policies by implementing adequate concrete measures within the demonstration sites.
  • To establish a forum by bringing together experts from administration, industry, science and NGOs to act as a trans-boundary information network in Romania and Rep. Moldova while the assigned experts' group is developing the Prut River Management Plan.
  • To improve and expand communication and co-operation among the Romanian and Moldovian governmental structures so as to integrate the amount of data and information on nutrients and toxic substances in the development plans in the Prut River Basin region.

The project resulted in reducing the pollution sources in the Pilot areas. Also, in Romania the construction of the buffer area is nearly finished and the monitoring shows already a decrease of the nitrate, nitrite, and phosphate concentrations.

According to the measurements done, the preliminary results show that after the buffer area, the stream improved its quality from degraded (category IV) to good (category II). In Moldova (Baurci Moldoveni area) the construction works are in development and only the first pool is partially working but even in this phase there is already a decrease of nitrate and nitrite concentrations in the river water. 

A set of materials was developed to support teachers from the pilot areas to address the water pollution issues. During the first 9 months of the project, there were organized several session of training of teachers and environmental education activities with students. In total 170 teachers and 945 students attended the activities.

Over 15.000 people had access to project-related information through web page. Specific materials, such as poster, info-panels, folders, have been developed and distributed in order to promote the project, the nutrient problems and ways to minimize it. The same issues were presented in a special section of the Moldavian publication Natura that reaches 10.000 people monthly. 

Lessons learned

When discussing a pollution issue it is very important to promote information regarding practical solutions, that are affordable and verified in practice, because in this way people will be encouraged to do something about it. The experience regarding practical solutions has to be acquired from practice and not only from theoretical or indirect sources.

Cross-border partnerships are more complicated than national ones in terms of time, cultural and corporate background and increased difficulties regarding traveling (papers, taxes, infrastructure, etc) and communication.

The difficulties are very important when problems appear during the project and there is a need to react fast to different unexpected situations such as floods, important meetings related to the project, etc. 

Importance of the case for IWRM

The case demonstrates a logical approach to improving water policy and management through stakeholder integration and cross-border cooperation. It includes a replicable and sustainable pilot demonstration for rural communities to improve their usage of water resources across borders.