Neretva is the largest river of the eastern part of the Adriatic basin. Four HE power-plants with large dams (higher than 15 metres)provide flood protection, power and water storage. It is still recognized for its natural beauty and diversity of its landscape.
Freshwater ecosystems have suffered from an increasing population and the associated development pressures. One of the most valuable natural resources of Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia is its freshwater resource, contained by an abundant wellspring and clear rivers.Situated between the major regional rivers (Drina river on the east, Una river on the west and the Sava river) the Neretva basin contains the most significant source of drinking water.
The Neretva is notable among rivers of the Dinaric Alps region, especially regarding its diverse ecosystems and habitats, flora and fauna, cultural and historic heritage.
Geography and hydrology
The Neretva flows through Bosnia and Herzegovina and Croatia and is the largest karst river in the Dinaric Alps in the eastern part of the Adriatic basin/watershed. Its total length is 230 kilometres (143 miles), of which 208 kilometres (129 miles) are in Bosnia and Herzegovina, while the final 22 kilometres (14 miles) are in the Dubrovnik-Neretva County of Croatia.
The Neretva watershed is 10,380 square kilometres (4,010 sq mi) in total; in Bosnia and Herzegovina 10,110 square kilometres (3,900 sq mi) with the addition of the Trebišnjica river watershed and in Croatia, 280 square kilometres (110 sq mi). The average discharge at profile Žitomislići in Bosnia and Herzegovina is 233 cubic metres (8,200 cu ft)/s and at the mouth in Croatia is 341 cubic metres (12,000 cu ft)/s in addition to the Trebišnjica River’s 402 cubic metres (14,200 cu ft)/s. The Trebišnjica River basin is included in the Neretva watershed due to a physical link of the two basins by the porous karst terrain.
The hydrological parameters of Neretva are regularly monitored in Croatia at Metković.
Geographically and hydrologically
Its source and headwaters gorge are situated deep in the Dinaric Alps at the base of the Zelengora and Lebršnik mountains, under the Gredelj saddle. The river source is at 1,227 m.a.s.l. The first section of the Neretva reaches to the town of Konjic; the Upper Neretva (Bosnian: Gornja Neretva), flows from south to north – north-west as do most Bosnia and Herzegovina rivers belonging to the Danube watershed, and covers some 1,390 square kilometres (540 sq mi) with an average elevation of 1.2%. Right below Konjic, the Neretva briefly expands into a wide valley which provides fertile agricultural land. The large Jablaničko Lake was artificially formed after construction of a dam near Jablanica.
The second section begins from the confluence of the Neretva and the Rama between Konjic and Jablanica where the Neretva suddenly takes a southern course. From Jablanica, the Neretva enters the largest canyons of its course, running through the steep slopes mountains of Prenj, Čvrsnica and Čabulja reaching 800–1,200 metres (2,625–3,937 feet) in depth. Three hydroelectric dams operate between Jablanica and Mostar. When the Neretva expands for the second and final time, it reaches its third section. This area is often called the Bosnian and Herzegovinian California. The last 30 kilometres (19 miles) form an alluvial delta, before the river empties into the Adriatic Sea.