Water Let Out From Lake Sevan, But Soils Getting Dry in Ararat Valley

Water Let Out From Lake Sevan, But Soils Getting Dry in Ararat Valley

EcoLur

The additional water intake from Lake Sevan still remains on the agenda. Water Committee of RA Ministry for Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources is proposing to make the water intake from Lake Sevan from 170 million to 210 million cum for the irrigation of land areas in Ararat Valley. Though PM Nikol Pashinyan stated that Lake Sevan is not a water container and other versions will be found to solve the problem with irrigation water, nevertheless, the discussions with the representatives of interested stakeholders show that Sevan’s option is still valid. Lake Sevan is a strategic reservoir of freshwater in Armenia, and two laws are in force for its preservation, recovery and sustainable use. Nevertheless, as a result of poor enforcement of these laws, currently Lake Sevan is undergoing waterlogging process.


Lake Sevan

• The decrease in the lake level for the purpose of additional water intake. In parallel with the lake level increase, the biological materials are washed off the shores and are found in the lake, as well as the vegetation cover not cleaned from the flooded shores get rotten in the lake, while accumulation of the concentrations of these materials in the lake are observed as a result of water intakes. The lake level must be increased by at least 1903.5 meters for the restoration of the ecosystem in Lake Sevan, and it must be at least 1905 m taking into consideration the height of the wave. Currently, the level of Lake is gradually decreasing, and, as of 20 August, it makes up 199.67 meters. The maximum amount of water intakes from the lake must be 170 million cum, nevertheless, the statutory limit was exceeded in 2008, 2012, 2014, and 2017.

• The absence of chemical and biological cleaning stations in Lake Sevan basin, which results in the rivers, the sewage systems of the communities and littoral restaurants to bring in huge amounts of biological and chemical substances.

• Elimination of the industrial reserves of the fish in Lake Sevan as a result of fish poaching, as there is no fish in the lake to digest organic substances.

• High temperature, which activates chemical processes and promotes waterlogging in the lake.

Under the appraisal of the environmentalists, even one drop of additional water intake from Lake Sevan is impermissible. The lake is in a critical situation and the additional water intake can lead to irreversible consequences. The residents of Lake-Sevan littoral communities also oppose to the additional water intake, especially when the tourism business incurred huge damage because of the absence of holidaymakers due to the unprecedented blooming in the lake this summer.

The farmers of Ararat Valley are on the other side of this matter, who make use of the water in Lake Sevan for irrigation purposes.

Under the official information of Water Committee, the water from Lake Sevan is directed to four regions, out of which 37 communities with a total area of 9733 ha are distributed under Sevan-Hrazdan system in Ararat Region. EcoLur has visited some of them: people are complaining of water management, the absence of proper information on which springs they get their water for irrigation from. The employees of the pumping station in Qaghtsrashen and Mkhchtyan we have visited don't also possess this information clearly.

Artashat canal at Qaghtsrashen pumping station

People employed at Mkhchtyan pumping station, which pumps water from Artashat canal to from Sevjur river, didn't know that the water from Lake Sevan also flows through the canal, besides the water from Sevjur. 'If there is water flowing on the left side of the overfall in the pumping station, then it's the water from Sevan,' an employee at Mkhchtyan pumping station said unconfidently. There was water flowing on the left side.




Mkhchyan pumping station infrastructure


Artashat canal in Qaghcrashen community

Narek community in Ararat Region under the distribution of Sevan-Hrazdan system pumps water for irrigation from Artashat canal. 'In Narek community, 250 ha out of 720 ha of irrigable land areas are not irrigated mainly because of poor water management. In the past, the people here used to plant orchards and make harvests. Orchards are getting dry because of the absence of water, but these orchards are 10 years old due to the water, aren't they?' Narek Community Head Garush Hakobyan said in his interview to EcoLur and reminded us of the reply letter of Water Committee in regard to the water problem in Narek Community '...they said, let large landowners not water their land areas for small owners to be able to water their land areas.'

Narek Community Head Garush Hakobyan

Garush Hakobyan said, if this problem is not solved, the community can refuse from the services of the WUC and establish a company by itself, which will serve the villagers, moreover, the community used to have such positive experience and around 10 million AMD fewer taxes were paid for irrigation water.

Narek Community has been included in World-Bank funded 'Qaghtsrashen Gravity Irrigation System' project and must be irrigated in a gravity method with the water from the Azat River. The constructors of Qaghtsrashen program came here, but their papers were not signed, so they left. There is also a project flaw: WUC hasn't signed it, as the pipes get exploded in the area of Getazat after opening water,'' the community head said.
Qaghtsrashen Community under the distribution of Sevan-Hrazdan system is also included in 'Qaghtsrashen Gravity Irrigation System' project. Qaghtsrashen residents say they won't make use of the irrigation system at all. 'The whole water is not sufficient even for Narek Community, just image, if the water flows through the area of so many villages, how arid areas can be left and whether there will be any water left to reach us,' Qaghtsrashen residents said. 'We mainly make use of Artashat canal, a part of the land areas are irrigated in a gravity manner, a part with the help of two pumping stations in Qaghtsrashen, which gets water supply from Artashat canal. We have around 150 households in Karmir Sar area, which gets water from the pumping station: the situation is really tough there: continuous complaints in the summer months – the water is not sufficient,' Qaghtsrashen Community Municipality Staff Secretary Vahram Araratyan said.
Under the villagers, the cause of the water problem is fish farms, which take all the water from the soil. 'Our problem is to close down these fish farms so as to restore our groundwater,' the residents said.


Qaghtsrashen Community residents

In reply to EcoLur's question whether the operation of the pumping station will be stopped after implementing 'Qaghtsrashen Gravity Irrigation System' project, Qaghtsrashen pumping station employee said, 'During Qaghtsrashen project, the pumping station will definitely operate, as it won't be enough.' Here where water is brought from Garni River in a gravity manner, 15 aggregates operate, in the best case only the largest pump will be shut off, the rest will continue operating.'

Verin Artashat community residents under the distribution of Sevan-Hrazdan system complained of the water loss in the internal system.

Verin Artashat community residents

Jrashen community in Ararat Region complained of the high water tariffs: they pay 20,000 AMD for watering one hectare of land area once, while they water 6-7 times per year.


As ways to solve the problem of irrigation water, the residents mentioned:
• Increase in Lake Sevan level through transferring water into the lake through Arpa-Sevan tunnel,
• Closedown of fish farms in Ararat Valley for the restoration of groundwater springs,
• Restoration of intra-household networks to avoid water losses.

17:30 August 20, 2018


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