March 14 is World Rivers Day. The International Day of Action for Rivers is a day to fight against large dams constructed on the rivers, which involve large areas, forests and deprive people of their settlements. One village was relocated for the construction of a dam in Armenia: during the construction of Spandaryan reservoir the village called Averak was flooded, so it was relocated 3 km north-west and is now called Gorayq.
Rivers of Armenia
The rivers in Armenia belong to the Aras and Kura basins. The largest river flowing through Armenia is the Aras transboundary river, the length of which is 1072 km. Armenia has 215 rivers with a length of over 10 km. Most of these rivers don't have permanent flow and get dry in the summer.
Problems of Rivers in Armenia
The main problems of the rivers in Armenia are as follows:
· Decrease in water resource
· Exhaustion of water resource - overload with HPPs
· River pollution
· Loss of fish reserves
Reduction of Water Resources
The Third National Communication of Climate Change Armenia says, the aggregate volume of river flow in the territory of Armenia will decrease by 11.9% by 2030, by 24% by 2070, and 37.8% by 2100.
We can already see reduction of the water flow in the rivers, particularly one of the most water-full rivers in Armenia, Sevjur (Metsamor) River, has already experienced water reduction. Some groups of the natural rivers near the estuary of Sevjur River have disappeared, which has significantly reduced the supply of the river in the estuary. Because of water volume reduction 3 deep wells were drilled in 2013 to meet the water demand of Armenian Nuclear Power Plant. The reduction of water resources is conditioned not only with climate change, but also poor management of water resources and poor supervision. The reduction of water resources in Ararat Valley is conditioned with drastically developing fish farms. Despite the measures taken by RA Nature Protection Ministry the problem of overexploitation of water resources in Ararat Valley remain unresolved.
Under the final data for 2017, groundwater intake made up 1.5 billion cum per year instead of 1.1 billion cum water set in RA Law “On National Water Program”.
Exhaustion of Water Resource – Overload with HPPs
Armenia has 183 SHPPs constructed, out of which 145 SHPPs are constructed on natural water flows. The SHPPs are constructed on 47 rivers in Armenia. SHPP development resulting in the disturbance of the ecological balance of the rivers because of too little environmental flow, often even because of its absence, the state of river biodiversity has deteriorated and the local landscape has changed. In many cases, SHPPs are of cascade type and take most part of the river water into the pipes leaving riverbed almost dry. The most SHPP-overloaded rivers in Armenia are as follows:
· Dali River – 20 km/62.55 %
· Yeghegis River - 47 km / 51.46%
· Karakaya Tributary to Yeghegis River – 15km/67.76%
· Aysas Tributary to Karakaya – 12km/49.96%
· Goght Tributary to Azat River – 16km/36.87%
· Martz River – 29km/36.65%
· Aragilijur (Aragliget) River – 16km/36.44%
· Gosh River – 8km/37.37%
· Sarajur Tributary to Martz River – 11km/36.36%
“Environmental Monitoring and Information Center” SNCO of RA Nature Protection Ministry showed the data for 2017, according to which 15 out of 43 rivers examined in the republic have the highest level of pollution – Class 5. These rivers are as follows – Pampak, Debed, Akhtala, Shnogh, Karkachun, Qasakh, Gegharot, Getar, Marmarik, Masrik, Kartchevan, Voghji, Artsvanik, Gorisget. Out of these rivers, debed, Akhtala, Shnogh, Norashenik, Voghji, Kartchevan, Artsvanik and Masrik Rivers bear the impact of mining activates. Residential areas also have big impact on the rivers, as household garbage, sewage and industrial wastewater are dumped into the rivers, which result in the deterioration of the river water quality after the residential settlements.
Loss of Fish Reserves
According to the specialists, the reserves of individual fish reserves are gradually reducing, especially it’s true for the fish species inhabiting in the upper reach of the rivers – brown trout, Kura Barbel, South Caspian sprilin and Sevan khramulya. The main affecting factors are fish poaching and other forms of prohibited fishing, as well as SHPPs. Dam construction also poses an essential threat for the natural habitat of the fish.
19:15 March 14, 2018