Maritsa river pollution

Maritsa river pollution

Maritsa is among the largest river that flows in the Bulgarian region. With the regions depending much on this river the quality of its water is of paramount importance. The water is used for recreation, irrigation industries and even domestic purposes. Besides, the river provides much water within the Turkish regions. Therefore, the quality of this water and its management is not only of great importance in Bulgaria but also to other neighboring nations. The river runs for about 500 Km long and has its source in the RilaMountains and empties its water into the Aegean Sea. However, the river has other tributaries that include the ArdaRiver, Tindzha,Biala among others. Being a source of much of the water that is consumed in this region the river is susceptible to various pollutants. The focus of the review is to present some of these pollutants and suggest some of the approaches that might be necessary in dealing with problem.

Source of pollution

One of the greatest pollutants of the water in the river is the urban waste water.Genina et al., (2017) argues that wastewater collection contributed to about 67% to the pollutants that get to the river. It is only 30% of the waste water in the region of Marista sub basin that gets treated. With such great amounts of water getting into the river without being treated it only leads to a great risk not only to the people using the river but also to the animals in the water. In the ideal circumstance, the waste water is supposed to undergo three stages of treatment before being released back to the river. However as already mentioned it is only 30 percent of the water that undergo these stages (Skoulikaris, &Zafirakou, 2019). Therefore, the large percentage of the water from industrial and home uses within the Maritsa river region is never treated. This eventually reduces the quality of water and makes it unsafe for human consumption. However, studies have shown in the recent times that there are ongoing efforts to construct collection and treatment systems. The approach could help in dealing with this challenge and thus ensure that the waste water released back to the river is treated and safe.

However, the pollution of the river does not only come from the waste water but also from the diffuse sources.Papazova&Simeonova, (2013) states that diffuse sources of water pollution are less commonly recognized. The reason that such sources are less recognized is because they arise from different sources that often do not have an obvious discharge point. Diffuse sources often arise when pollutants from a range of dispersed urban and rural land use activities lead to contamination. One of the characteristics of such type of pollution is that it mainly results from the rainfall runoff and in most cases when there is a storm. As the water flows thought the ground it picks up the pollutants and eventually dumps them into the river or its tributes. Therefore, River Maritsa seems to suffer most from this problem. Gecheva(2017) argues that 74% of the diffuse pollution comes from the agriculture. The region around the river depends much on irrigation and plantation faming. In most of these farms there is the heavy use of chemicals to treat the plants and even to add nutrients to the soil. The excess chemicals from these farms eventually find their way into the river during the rains thus causing the pollution. The effects of such pollution are that they lead to nitrate pollution of the ground water (Kostadinova et al., 2016).The common pollutants that the river receives include nutrients arise from overuse of fertilizer, sediments, from soil erosion, pathogens that include bacteria leaking from septic tanks, toxicants that include pesticides and even salts.

The Impacts of pollution

In a study to access the impact of pollution along the river Kostadinova, (2017) finds out those Bryophytes are heavily impacted. In the study he focuses on 26 aspects and finds that there are a lot of these pollutants and that they have such a huge impact on the bryophytes. The study also shows that the bryophyte populations were seriously affected by the structural changes along the middle course of the river. He further points that the plants were also heavily impacted by anthropogenic pressure due to the agricultural activities, urbanization and industrialization. The effect of these changes has resulted to a serious deliver in the bryophyte diversity. With a low colonization of these species in the river the net effect is that the life of other species is under threat. Being at the lower level of the food chain, their decline might determine the population of fish and other animals.

However one of the greatest impacts of pollution is that it reduces the quality of water. With the waste water and the pollutants seeping into the river it becomes quite hard to use the water for consumption especially in the lower regions. While the water might be treated, there are still other contaminants that might not be removed during the process of treatment. Besides there are regions along the river that people use the water without any treatment (Valcheva et al., 2016). This is such a health risk concern to the people since they are not only exposed to diseases but also to toxicants. As the study has shown there are also toxicants from industries and bacteria from septic tanks that still find their way into the river. Such situation seem to paint a picture of how dire the situation dire in the region.


While efforts are already underway to try and deal with pollution especially the one that is coming from waste water, there is need to deal with other source of pollution. One of the areas that seem to be forgotten is the aspect of diffuse sources. While it is hard to identify the diffuse sources, it might be possible to deal with these issues. These sources often include affluent from factories, agricultural toxicants and other sources. Therefore in order to deal with these issues, therefore it is would be important to focus on these sources. The authorities within these regions should focus on reducing the use of exercise chemical and fertilizers in the firms. It is evident that agriculture seems to be the highest cause of diffuses sources of pollution. Therefore are the authorities can focus their effort in trying to reduce these chemicals then it would be effective to deal with this issue. Besides, the industry should take responsibility of ensuring that they dispose of any by products in a secure way. Sensitization of the society on the role they play in polluting the water might also be an effective way resolve the issue. Finally there is hope to deal with this problem. However there should be commitment from all stakeholders.




Gecheva, G., Yurukova, L., &Ganeva, A. (2011).Assessment of pollution with aquatic bryophytes in Maritsa River (Bulgaria). Bulletin of environmental contamination and toxicology87(4), 480.

Papazova, P., &Simeonova, P. (2013).Environmetric data interpretation to assess the water quality of Maritsa River catchment. Journal of Environmental Science and Health, Part A48(8), 963-972.

Genina, V. M., Gecheva, G. M., Velcheva, I. G., &Marinov, M. I. (2017).Assessment of organic pollutants in sediments from Maritsa River basin (Bulgaria). BULGARIAN CHEMICAL COMMUNICATIONS49, 231-236.

Skoulikaris, C., &Zafirakou, A. (2019). River Basin Management Plans as a tool for sustainable transboundary river basins’ management. Environmental Science and Pollution Research, 1-14.

Valcheva, E., Velcheva, I., Nikolov, B., &Petrova, S. (2016). Biotesting of the Maritsa River waters-effect on crop plant varieties. AgrarniNauki8(19), 129-136.

Kostadinova, G., Dermendzhieva, D., Beev, G., Petkov, G., Pavlov, D., &Valkova, E. (2017).Quality assessment of Maritsa River water as a main source for irrigation in Thracian valley. FEB-FRESENIUS ENVIRONMENTAL BULLETIN, 4367.

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