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Over the last two decades, people engaged in the water sector in the countries of the former Yugoslavia and in numerous water management institutions in Europe, followed with interest the steady development of the Institute for Water Management of Bijeljina, as it evolved into one of the most competent planning and research water institutions in this part of Europe. That this assessment is merited by the fact that the Institute has ranked among the few water sector institutions that are capable of successfully producing the most comprehensive strategic planning documents. Such a document is the ‘Integrated Water Management Strategy of the Republika Srpska’ which was completed in 2012. This document is one of the most comprehensive planning documents in water management planning, which very few institutions in the world would be able to produce. Such planning documents are treated globally as the most important strategic documents of a state, immediately after the Constitution and the Spatial Plan.

When the reorganization of various activities and sectors in B&H began in 1992, one of the most important and urgent demands was in the water sector, since water is the most vital human need. It was imperative to immediately form a professionally competent and efficient institution which would in the shortest possible time solve numerous urgent problems in the water sector generated during turbulent times (destroyed water utility infrastructure, water supply for numerous new settlements, flood protection, etc.), and then continue to deal with primarily operational problems, and later long-term and increasingly comprehensive problems in the development of the water management infrastructure in the Republika Srpska.

In response to this situation, the Institute for Water Management was established in October 1992 in Ilidza. The company was established by a group of respected experts from various water management areas who, until then, worked in one of the best organized water institutions in the former Yugoslavia, the Institute for Water Management in Sarajevo. The Institute was first organized as an institution of special social interest which was entrusted with live-saving operational, planning and research tasks in the field of water. Since then, the Institute has steady progressed. It changed its location in accordance with the circumstances of that time (Ilidza, Pale and finally Bijeljina). In accordance with the legal situation in the Republika Srpska, it changed its ownership structure, becoming a joint stock company funded entirely with private capital. However, the Institute maintained its strategic professional and scientific orientation in spite of these transitional processes. It continued to strengthen the team and train for the competent implementation of the most comprehensive tasks in the integrated management, use and protection of water. This professional orientation was very quickly recognized not only in the Republika Srpska, but also in Europe. References in the Institute’s completed projects show that, from the beginning, the Institute worked very successfully with the European Union, the World Bank, the expert bodies of the governments of Italy, Spain, Switzerland, Japan, Norway, the Danube Commission, as well as several other international institutions. The Institute has successfully carried out an even greater number of projects for domestic clients. The long list includes projects of many water supply systems, sewerage systems, river engineering and flood protection works, water and spring protection systems, land improvement systems (including the most significant project in that area: ‘Study of Sustainable Development of Irrigated Areas in the Republika Srpska’). In addition to the previously mentioned ‘Integrated Water Management Strategy of the Republika Srpska’, the following are the most significant projects and have a great strategic importance: ‘Framework Plan for the Development of Water Management in the Republika Srpska’ (which in the first stage defines the basic strategy for managing the water resources of the Entity), ‘Study – Analysis of the Water Balance of the Republika Srpska’, ‘Study of the impact of the ‘Gornji Horizonti’ interbasin transfer to the surface and groundwater regime’ (developed in the consortium with ‘Energoprojekk – Hidroinzenjering’), ‘Study on the methodology for determining environmental flow in systems with reservoirs and intakes’, ‘Erosion Map of the Republika Srpska’ which was prepared by using state-of-the-art GIS information technologies, ‘The Trebisnjica and Neretva River Basin Management Plan in the Trebisnjica River Basin District in the Republika Srpska’. I would like to use this opportunity to mention a very comprehensive and important planning document, the ‘Management Plan for the Trebisnjica Reservoirs and Hydroelectric Power Stations’, which can be used as an exemplary management project enabling the extremely complex and important Trebisnjica hydro-energy system to enter the most advanced stage of cybernation of facilities and system management as a whole, in order to maximize energy and water management effectiveness. The project ‘Relocation of the Musnica River Channel in Veliko Gatacko Polje’ enables the further development of the large ‘Gacko’ thermal power system. Complex river engineering works on the river Musnica in Avtovac upgraded the riparian area for sport and leisure activities (pedestrian and bicycle paths, swimming pools) and connected this area with the Klinje reservoir in order to protect the natural flow of the Musnica from degradation by urbanization. I must not omit to mention a very important technological breakthrough by the Institute in the organisation and management of the project for a wastewater treatment plant in Bileca using the latest SBR technology. With this extremely successful project, the Republika Srpska joined the countries that have mastered this most efficient and sound technology for wastewater treatment. This plant is a very important facility for the protection of the Bileca Lake from the eutrophication process, but also an example of how wastewater treatment in other towns in the Republika Srpska should be carried out.

If we analyse the list of successfully implemented projects by the Institute, we can conclude that the Institute has supported people and their needs in the most vital area for survival and development: provision of sufficient water of the highest quality; safe living in settlements along the river banks; timely preservation and protection of the water resources of the country; timely, long-term and effective planning of large integrated systems without which life cannot be imagined in the coming decades.

If at this anniversary I dare to make some general conclusions, it is my pleasure to point out the following: all these extremely important tasks that were imposed by circumstances and development, were carried out by the Institute extremely successfully, always with the highest ratings by beneficiaries. People from various institutions of the Republika Srpska and the region, numerous experts from various international institutions, and also all well-informed experts from the water sector, including me, could see for ourselves, through cooperation with the Institute, a series of valuable characteristics of this institution. Among the praiseworthy qualities, I would like to mention the most relevant ones, which are reflected in the high professional reputation of the Institute:

  • The rigour with which the Institute approaches each task

I personally witnessed with great satisfaction that all jobs in the Institute are performed with the highest professional rigour. Unfortunately, this is a characteristic that is less and less present not only in this region, but also in the world. Even the smallest local water company engaging with the Institute can be sure that people’s needs will be treated professionally, rigorously and responsibly, as if the project was of the highest strategic importance to the state. Also, the highest state bodies can be sure that the planning documents which direct the water strategy prepared by the Institute are based on the most up-to-date approaches and are equal to those produced in the most developed countries of the world. Often, the level is noticeably higher.

  • Reliability

The Institute has always endeavoured to be a reliable and loyal business partner that performs all its obligations comprehensively, on time and accurately. Even more than that; in the case of problems that were urgent and important for population, the Institute often did not wait for the formal contract to prepare the documents, so that the problem could be solved as promptly and successfully as possible.

  • Ability to gather the most competent working teams

By virtue of the previous qualities (rigour and reliability) the Institute is one of few that have the highest scientific, professional and business credibility that enables it to bring together the most eminent experts from several countries in all areas of water science to solve the most complex problems. This enables the Institute to carry out the most complex tasks at the highest professional level, with absolute internationally verified credibility. I was honoured and pleased to be a part of multinational teams of twenty of the most famous university professors and other top experts of various professions, that consistently and professionally worked on large projects or revised the most comprehensive projects of international importance.

  • Continuous strengthening of staff competencies

Experts and competent professionals who master the most modern achievements of science and the profession are of the utmost value and the best guarantee of the success of each job. This has always been the starting point of the Institute’s developmental credo and orientation. For this reason, the Institute constantly invests in the education of staff and in the innovation of knowledge. Because of this positive orientation, a very desirable process has been achieved in the Institute: a precious mixture of great experience and professional maturity of highly experienced experts who formed the Institute on the one hand, and on the other, young staff who are permanently being educated, so that they can easily handle the latest software and information technologies to provide the best cybernetic support to decision making in the most problematic and complex tasks of water management.

As the Institute for Water Management of Bijeljina proudly celebrates twenty years of delivering solutions, continuous growth, development and ever-increasing professional success, it is a good moment and a pleasure to acknowledge that a strong expert, planning and scientific institution in ​​water management has evolved through solving of concrete tasks. Today, the Institute is one of the few institutions in this part of Europe that can successfully solve the most comprehensive tasks of planning integrated systems in the fields of ​​water use, improvement and protection, as well as in planning the most up-to-date cybernetic management methods of the most complex systems. The Institute produced projects that were used for the construction of the facilities that successfully serve the people in the whole of the Republika Srpska and beyond. Its customers, together with the entire water sector, congratulate the Institute and express their confidence that the stable and reliable development of the Institute will continue. Further successful development of the Institute will be carried out to the satisfaction of the people who benefit from its work, of the state bodies that have in this institution an extremely reliable and high quality professional and planning support, and also of the hydraulic engineering profession of which the Institute is a part and to which it will continue to contribute with permanent scientific and professional values.

With sincerest congratulations for the anniversary of the Institute
Prof. dr. Branislav Djordjevic, B.Sc. in Civil Engineering
Regular member of the Academy of Engineering Sciences of Serbia
Member of the Scientific Society of Serbia
Professor honoris causa