Overexploitation of Groundwater Resources in Ararat Valley Continuing

Overexploitation of Groundwater Resources in Ararat Valley Continuing

EcoLur

The fisheries in Ararat Valley use 50% of the total volume of groundwater resources –809 million cubic meters. The remaining water distribution is carried out in the following manner – 36% - 581 million cum/ton goes to irrigation, 12% - 193 million cum/ton goes to drinking and household purposes, including the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant and only 2% - 25 million cum/ton is used for industrial purposes: all these data are submitted in the Advanced Science and Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development Project (ASPIRED) implemented with the USAID support in 2016.

According to the studies, groundwater abstraction still exceeds by 45% the sustainable rate of groundwater abstraction stipulated by the National Water Program Law in 2015 – 1.1 billion cum/annually.

Annual loss of 35 cum occurs from non-operated groundwater wells. Mainly groundwater is used through groundwater wells. As of 2016, 63% of the existing groundwater wells were operational, while 37% were not used. The number of not used, including those with leakage was 128. The total discharge of these wells is 1,096.4 liters/second or 34.6 MCM/year.

Consequences of Resource Overexploitation

Water yield of more than 300 artesian wells have decreased by up to approximately 10 times (from 6,118.6 liters per second to 606.4 liters/second). Furthermore, more than 205 wells have lost self-emission capacity due to reduced ground water pressure.

The safe operation of Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant is endangered

 “According to initial data of inventory of natural springs, groundwater wells and fish farms in the Ararat Valley that is currently being conducted within the framework of the ASPIRED Project, discharge of the selected springs’ groups has stopped. Among those are the groups of natural springs of the Sevjur (Metsamor) river headwaters, Aknalich, Kulubeklu, Taronik (Zeiva) and springs used for the water supply of the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant (ANPP). New groundwater wells have been drilled since 2013 to provide supplemental water for the ANPP, about Aknalitch till 2000 the lake surface was 10 ha, the natural yield of the lake was up to 3000 l/sec. As of September-October 2016, the surface of Aknalitch made up to 1.5 ha, i.e. it has been reduced by 10 coefficients,” Project Specialist Lilit Harutyunyan mentioned. Three new groundwater wells have been drilled since 2013 to provide supplemental water for the ANPP, and the ANNP plans drilling ten new wells for securing its operational water demands by 2017.

If the groundwater use rates continue remaining the same, groundwater wells or natural springs will be endangered, the project specialist mentioned.
 
Climate Change - Additional Challenges for Ararat Valley

Armenia’s water resources, especially those in the Ararat Valley – the country’s largest repository of high-quality groundwater reserves – are threatened by additional sources of pressure, with the most important being climate change and intensive human activities. In the meantime, the annual precipitation is projected to decrease by 11% in 2030, which will result in 25% reduction in river flow

“Under all these factors the capacity of Armenia to completely meet its demand for drinking water in all spheres will be endangered,” Lilit Harutyunyan said and outlined that the Armenian Government shall make all the measures stricter.
 
Response of the Armenian Officials to Environmental Disaster in Ararat Valley

Nature Protection Deputy Minister Khachik Hakobyan, “Since 2013 the Armenian Government has implemented wide-scale works aimed at the preservation and management of water resources in Ararat Valley. Our observations have recorded there is increase in water volume in the well and I think this shall serve as a basis to ensure the continuation of these works.”
 
Energy Infrastructures and Natural Resources Deputy Minister Areg Galstyan, “We really value reliable water supply and we continue increasing those wells, which cost money. Now we can’t say whether water supply is reliable for nuclear power plant cooling or not, moreover we have a programme on the construction of a new power unit from 2027. We shall have specific forecasts from where we will take water and whether or not this water supply is reliable. Even some experts say to take water from the Aras River and we get an absurd situation, as we send water from Ararat Valley to the Aras River for further intake for cooling purposes. That is, we need clear forecasts, if you can make them and say what will happen. The words you wrote here about disastrous impact, whether they are realistic, or, however, we should expect for water volumes to be sufficient for us and the situation won’t get any worse. It’s very important for us and unlike other consumers, our volumes are low and we need guaranteed these volumes are reliable ones.”

23:15 November 10, 2016


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