ArmInfo.Up to 75 million cubic meters water will be released from Lake Sevan for irrigation. At a Friday session on August 6, the Armenian government approved a legislative initiative on amendments to the law "On Approval of the Annual Comprehensive Program of Measures for the Restoration, Preservation, Reproduction and Use of the Sevan Ecosystem".
Minister of Territorial Administration and Infrastructures of Armenia Gnel Sanosyan stated, the legislative initiative is aimed at partial mitigation of the deficit in irrigation water of lands receiving water from the Sevan-Hrazdan derivation system. So, as of August 1 of this year, the occupancy of relatively large reservoirs was 226.21 million cubic meters, which is less than the figure for the same period last year by 125.77 million cubic meters (it was about 351 million cubic meters). In addition, due to hot weather and low rainfall, the water flow in the Marmarik, Hrazdan, Kassakh and Azat rivers has sharply decreased, and to compensate for the lack of water, releases from Sevan and the republic's reservoirs for irrigation needs this year began earlier than planned - at 10 days earlier than last year, and during this period the volume of releases has already reached 19 million cubic meters. Meanwhile, in the reservoirs Aparan, Azat and Marmarik - during the reporting period, a water deficit of 21.43 million cubic meters has already formed. Environment Minister Romanos Petrosyan, in turn, noted that, according to the March forecasts, it was expected that this year the level of Lake Sevan by the end of June will reach the highest level in the last 60 years. As the minister pointed out, the question is this year there was an unprecedented high temperature background. Today the level of Lake Sevan is 4 cm lower than in the same period last year. Releases from 170 million cubic meters permitted by the law have already amounted to about 157 million cubic meters, and daily water releases from the lake are 2-2.5 million cubic meters. As a result, the government decided to increase the maximum water release rate of 170 million cubic meters to 245 million cubic meters. The ministers assured the Prime Minister that this year they will no longer apply to the Cabinet of Ministers with such a request.
To recall, on December 6, 2019, the National Assembly of the Republic of Armenia, at its session on December 6 in the second and final reading, amended the law "On Approval of the Annual and Comprehensive Programs of Measures for the Restoration, Preservation, Reproduction and Use of the Lake Sevan Ecosystem" and stated that henceforth the Government of Armenia will be limited in water intake from Lake Sevan. It was noted that, according to the current legislation, annual releases from the lake should not exceed 170 million cubic meters. However, since 2012, the government has annually applied to parliament with proposals to increase the volume of water withdrawal. As a result, in 2012, 2014, 2017, 2018, a water withdrawal was carried out from the lake, almost twice the established norm, as a result of which the lake lacked 1.5 billion cubic meters of water. As a result, the decrease in the level of the lake led to the threat of waterlogging. In the first reading, it was proposed to establish the maximum limit for water intake from the lake at 170 million cubic meters. However, then, after lengthy discussions, it was decided that in the event of a drought, the government of the country would have the right to appeal to parliament with a proposal for additional water releases, and on this request a separate law would have to be adopted. At the same time, the executive body will have to documentarily substantiate its request.
Lake Sevan is the main source of drinking water in the region, one of the largest alpine lakes in Europe and Asia, located in the heart of the Armenian Highlands, at an altitude of 1914 meters. In length, from northwest to southeast, the lake stretches for more than 70 kilometers, and the area of its water surface reaches almost 1.5 thousand square kilometers. The only source of the lake originates - the Hrazdan River (a tributary of the Araks), while 28 rivers flow into it, the total area of the basins of which is 2776 sq. kilometers. By 2030, the lake level will be increased to the optimal 1903.5 m.