Risks of Merciless Water Exploitation in Ararat Valley May Become Uncontrollable

Risks of Merciless Water Exploitation in Ararat Valley May Become Uncontrollable


Over 15% of used groundwater in Ararat Valley is taken from deep wells located lower than 150 meters, another 37% are located at the depth of 100-150 meters: these data are presented within the frames of USAID’s Advanced Science and Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development Project (ASPIRED). According to most participants attending the program presentation held on 16 December 2016, this is a critically hazardous state, which may lead to uncontrollable loss of hydroresources in Ararat Valley.

Reminder: still in 2011 well-known hydrogeologist Ruben Yadoyan beat an alarm about the deterioration of water quality in Ararat Valley.

"It's not permissible to pump water in Ararat Valley with a powerful pump. There are three layers of water, the surface layer is freshwater, but not drinkable. The lower two layers are drinking waters, but in case of pumping they will get mixed and it won't be possible to recover them," Ruben Yadoyan said.

The outcomes of the project are quite close to Yadoyan’s assessment, while the situation is more critical. Thus, 1795 groundwater wells are operational, including 680 artesian (self-flowing) wells with 31596.3 l/s discharge, and 1115 wells operated by pumps, with 32387.3 l/s total discharge that is estimated based on capacity of the pump. All in all, there are 2807 wells in Ararat valley, a part of which has been conserved.

The groundwater wells are used for the following purposes:
Irrigation: 924 wells, including 162 self-flowing wells with 2549.4 l/s, and 762 wells operated by pumps with 25800.7 l/s total estimated productivity.

Drinking-household water supply: 500 wells, including 212 self-flowing wells with 4272.6 l/s discharge and 288 wells operated by pumps, with 4903.5 l/s total estimated productivity.
Fish farming: 336 wells, including 302 self-flowing wells with 24759.3 l/s discharge, and 34 wells operated by pumps with 892.8 l/s total estimated discharge.

Industry: 35 wells, including 4 self-flowing wells with 15 l/s discharge, and 31 wells operated by pumps, with 805.3 l/s total discharge, including for the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant.
The main water intake occurs in the central part of Ararat Valley and in adjacent areas of Ararat and Armavir Regions. Uneven distribution of the wells also affects the misbalance of all water system in Ararat Valley.

The project also proposes certain solutions: one what to do with water usage permits, which have been issued contrary to the existing statutory standards. Thus, 541 wells are operated without water usage permits, which discharge 7131 1/s. Meawhile 991 wells discharge a total of 40079 l/s, in parallel with 140 wells with total discharge of 3609 l/s, which are in the process of extension or revision. It should be taken into consideration that conserved wells also have water leaks. Another problem is that continuation of this project requires high expenses.

At the presentation of the project Nature Protection Minister Artsvik Minasyan said, “The basis of the Armenian government’s policy is the value of ecosystem approach. In this viewpoint, the policy in this sector shall be reviewed and to gradually impose such limitations, which will lead the use of water to complete regulation, promoting development and ecosystem conservation. In our model of development, the most important element shall be regulated water system,” the minister noted.

Conclusion: the government shall integrate the expenses of implementing and continuing such projects into its budget. So far only donors are concerned with our strategic water reserves, unless their priorities are changed.

13:40 December 21, 2016

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