The DRB is part of the larger Sava River Basin which is again part of the Danube River System. It is an abundant source of biodiversity and the river has high flow rates and generally good water quality characteristics, making it particularly suitable for hydropower potential such as the Bajina Basta Hydropower Plant (HPP). Notwithstanding, some 60% of this potential is still not utilised. In addition tourism is important; the Tara Canyon in Montenegro is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the DRB as a whole, has exceptional natural beauty.

Besides hydropower and tourism, the DRB is important for water supply for human consumption, for recreation, fisheries (commercial and sporting) and irrigation. The Basin has experienced major floods in recent years, especially in 2010 and in May 2014 that caused loss of life and major destruction, principally due to the inadequate flood preparedness and flood protection measures. Notwithstanding, seasonal droughts have also occurred which affect biodiversity, fisheries, groundwater supply and agriculture.

The Drina River also forms the international boundary along some of its reaches between Serbia and BiH and periodically shifts its course through meandering that can lead to boundary disputes.

There is generally insufficient cooperation between the water management and energy sectors in the basin which has been a major weakness for implementation of flood protection and flood control activities. In the longer terms this lack of cooperation represents a major impediment to longer term development scenarios involving investment plans and “trade-offs” between the different water users.