ArmInfo.The artesian basin of the Ararat valley has significant groundwater resources that are used for household needs, irrigation, fish farming and production. The pool water is also used for the cooling system of the Metsamor NPP. Research by specialists has shown that the groundwater level in the basin over the past 10 years has dropped by an average of 6-9 meters (up to 15 meters in some places), and the artesian zone has decreased by about 67%.
This was discussed at the "Prospects for sustainable management of water resources in the Ararat Valley" scientific conference held in Yerevan today, where the water problems of the region and their negative consequences for Armenia were discussed. The conference was organized by the USAID Advanced Science & Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project.
The experts present noted that the negative dynamics of the excessive exploitation of the underground water resources of the valley leads to a water imbalance, a decrease in the potential for groundwater recovery, the creation of water shortages in the region, which threatens the food and energy security of the country. As a result of resource depletion, as of today more than 30 communities in the Ararat Valley are experiencing problems with drinking water and irrigation, which is evidenced by the assessment of demand carried out by experts. It was revealed that the negative difference between the demand and supply of water in the artesian basin of the Ararat valley was more than 1.120 million m3. This shortage is mainly related to human activities and overuse of resources by various sectors of the economy, the main of which is fisheries.
It was noted that until recently, government decisions on groundwater abstraction were based on data from 1983-1984. In order to prevent over-exploitation of water resources, regulate the activities of water users, the government has adopted appropriate decisions and legislative acts. However, data from the ASPIRED project show that in 2016 the actual water withdrawals from these resources are still 46% higher than the allowable amount approved by the government.
As Director of the USAID Mission in Armenia David Hoffman stated at the conference, the Armenian government and the United States have been working together for more than 25 years to solve the country's water problems. "We need data to better support the sector. How is it possible to reduce the consumption of groundwater, not knowing their true volume, because the latest data is about 40 years old? He expressed hope that as a result of further cooperation, it will be possible to restore the groundwater resources of the country's agricultural sector, which is of strategic importance for the safety of the Armenian (Metsamor) NPP.
Deputy Minister of the Environment of the Republic of Armenia Anna Mazmanyan highly appreciated the implementation of the USAID/ ASPIRED project, highlighting the results of complex studies of the hydrological and hydrogeological conditions of the Ararat Valley, carried out within the framework of the project, primarily in the context of the analysis of the origin, properties and condition of groundwater, which is necessary to determine technical solutions for their competent and efficient use. The research will help develop an unified, interconnected and integrated approach to efficient water management in this critical region of Armenia.
It was noted that on the basis of these data provided by ASPIRED, the Armenian government will be able to develop reasonable policies and legislation in the water sector, which are primarily aimed at achieving the goals of long-term conservation of resources in order to meet the water needs of the population and economic entities, in conditions of a conscious and responsible approach to water use.
To recall, back in September 2019, the Armenian government made a decision on conservation of 97 water wells in the Ararat Valley. Presenting then the draft decision, the head of the Ministry of Environment noted that 37.9 million drams will be allocated from the Reserve Fund of the government to solve the task. As a result of the implementation of the program, about 30 million cubic meters of water will be saved. In addition, the possibility of a complete ban on the use of artesian wells in the Ararat valley during the period when there is no need for irrigation was considered.
To recall, on August 29, the government of the country made another decision aimed at streamlining the order of water supply to fish farms in the Ararat valley. About 120 fish farms have been operating in the valley. In order to provide them with the required volumes of water, it is envisaged to use a closed water supply cycle, which will form a single chain in the production of fish and fish products. To this end, it was planned to establish certain limits for companies engaged in this area. It was proposed to fish farms to modernize production by transferring from to a closed cycle, and as support measures were developed to make the farms accessible to affordable financial resources and leasing transactions. 460 million drams were allocated from the state budget to solve this problem.