Armenian Government Decided To Permit Additional Water Permit from Lake Sevan Up to 75 Million CM

Armenian Government Decided To Permit Additional Water Permit from Lake Sevan Up to 75 Million CM

On August 6, the Armenian government decided to allow up to 75 million cubic meters of additional water intake from Lake Sevan.

RA Government approved the draft resolution of RA Government on approving the legislative initiative of the Republic of Armenia "On approving or considering urgent the draft law “On annual and complex programs of restoration, preservation, reproduction and use of Lake Sevan ecosystem. The draft law was presented by newly appointed TAI Minister Gnel Sanosyan.

He noted that the need to adopt the project is conditioned with the fact to partially mitigate the deficit of irrigation water supply of the lands under the control of the irrigation systems fed by Sevan-Hrazdan derivation system.

 "As of August 1, 2021, the filling of relatively large reservoirs in the country was 226.21 million cubic meters, which is less by 125.77 million cubic meters in 2020 when there was 351.98 million cubic meters for the same period.

Due to the hot weather and low rainfall, the water flow has sharply decreased in Marmarik, Hrazdan, Qasakh, and Azat rivers.

Water discharges from Lake Sevan for irrigation in 2021 started 10 days earlier than in the previous year, during which 19 million cubic meters of water have already been drawn.

Five water-using companies under the control of Sevan-Hrazdan system have 170 million cubic meters under the water supply calculations for 31.4 thousand hectares of land for the entire irrigation period of 2021. The average for the last 4 years was 190.8 million cubic meters. However, both the actual situation and the multi-year water recording show that this year it will be possible to take 116 million cubic meters instead of the planned 170 million. And here, too, there is a deficit of 54 million cubic meters.

“The draft proposes to change the amount of 170 million cubic meters of discharge from the lake in 2021 for irrigation purposes to 245 million cubic meters,” TAI Minister said in his speech.

RA Prime Minister then inquired whether the decision would generate additional revenues in the energy system. "If I am not mistaken, whether we have already regulated by the legislation how those incomes are distributed and how they are generated, what happens to those incomes," Nikol Pashinyan asked.

In response, RA Deputy Prime Minister Suren Papikyan said, "In fact, the law exists and the law allows to direct the money generated in case of additional water intake only to the improvement of the water system. That is, it accumulates separately, and we can use it to improve the water system, to improve the Arpa-Sevan, to improve the irrigation system. And this year we will have a certain amount of money, we will direct it according to the decision."

"Do we have any report on the money accumulated for that purpose in the past, a report on what issues were resolved, how much money was generated, what was that money spent on?" RA Prime Minister asked. TAI Minister replied, "I do not have a complete answer, but there is an extra-budgetary fund in the Ministry of Finance, the money is collected there, there is a clear goal what to spend it on. I want to make an addition to the topic. We will try to operate Ranchpar and Mkhchyan pumping stations with great capacity, thus filling the gap so that we can get as little water from Sevan as possible.”

In response to the question by RA Prime Minister, Chair of Public Services Regulatory Commission Garegin Baghramyan informed. "I would like to inform you that we had such a practice that if additional water was released from Sevan, the money was directed to the investments in the water system, the irrigation system.”

In fact, the decision was made hastily without proper discussions. And again, the burden of irrigating the Ararat Valley was placed on Lake Sevan, which itself needs help.

On July 22, 2021, it became clear from the substantiation of RA Government Decision 1201-A that we have no progress in preventing the overexploitation of water resources in the Ararat artesian basin. Like it was 4-5 years ago, today, according to official information, 1.6 billion cubic meters of water is pumped out of the artesian basin of the Ararat Valley instead of the permissible 1.1 billion. 809 million cubic meters of this water is poured into the drainage system, flowing out of the country, disrupting the operation of the drainage systems. Meanwhile, the drying fields of the inhabitants of the Ararat Valley have been left without water, thus relying on 170 million cubic meters of water from Sevan, which doesn’t reach its destination due to irrigation system losses.

Instead of minimizing these losses, taking measures to improve the ecological functions of Lake Sevan catchment area, in 2017 as a result of around 100 million cubic meters of Lake Sevan in 2017 and 40 million cubic meters of additional water in 2018, which resulted in the sale of electricity generated in the Sevan-Hrazdan Hydro Cascade having amounted to 1,645,139.6 thousand drams and 481,720.2 thousand drams, respectively. 1.4 billion AMD was directed at installation and operation of water meter measuring equipment equipped with SCADA system, as TAI informed EcoLur in 2019 in response to its enquiry. 

The draft law submitted to the Government's sitting mentions an article on the production of additional electricity, which the members of RA Government did not seem to be familiar with. The money should be directed to the implementation of measures for the improvement of the environmental and nature use functions of Lake Sevan catchment area.

August 06, 2021 at 17:24