“To Save Sevan or Agriculture? Isn’t it Possible to Combine Solutions?”
11.07.2017
18:30
Environmentalists alarm that 100 million cubic meters of water from Lake Sevan will endanger the ecosystem of Sevan, while representatives of the Armenian government insist that only way to solve 130,000 farmers’ irrigation problems is additional water release from Lake Sevan.

Last week, the National Assembly passed the amendments to the law on Lake Sevan’s ecosystem that enables the release of other 100 million cubic meters from Lake Sevan by a vote of 77 for and 4 against. Thus, additional 270 million cubic meters water release will be fulfilled from Lake Sevan.
Media Center held a debate, entitled “To Save Sevan or Agriculture? Isn’t it Possible to Combine Solutions?” in “A1+” TV Pavilion with online broadcasting on July 11.
Volodyan Narimanyan, Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Water Economy, said that the draft aims at provision of water demand.

“We have 39,000 hectares of land under the Sevan-Hrazdan system, and every year, farmers engaged in these lands raise their water demands. This water demand amounted to 538 million cubic meters this year, we combine it with other existing water resources, which are allocated to irrigation and, in case of differences, we have to turn to Sevan,” Narimanyan said.

He adds that the deficit comprised 300 million cubic meters this year.

“We have made calculations so that not to break the ecological balance of Lake Sevan and have initiated 100 million cubic meters of additional water demand. This year the snowfall did not solve the problem, the snowfall provided a low stream and the reservoirs had been dropped,” Narimanyan said.

Karine Danielyan, Head of “For Sustainable Human Development” NGO, Environmentalist, disagreed with Narimanyan and highlighted that the climate conditions is a very subtle issue based on which it can always be stated that the reservoirs are empty.

“Once when it was again stated that the reservoirs were empty, we went and made videos to show that they were full, and as a result it was decided to set up the Sevan commission, which would control the state of Sevan, the water release, etc.,” Danielyan said.

She adds that 40 million cubic meters of water release is planned this year from Kechut reservoir and it is unclear for what purpose.

“I do not understand what the purpose if not for the Kechut Hydroelectric Power Plant (HPP) which produces about 30 million kilowatts per year and by May 31, 2017 it has already produced about 15 million kilowatt hours. What made us to empty the reservoir of Kechut and then say there is no water and release it from Sevan,” Danielyan asked Mr. Narimanyan.

As a reply to the question, Volodya Narimanyan says that the capacity of the Kechut reservoir is 25 million and it has nothing to do with irrigation water demand.

Gagik Manucharyan, Head of Division of Environment Protection Policy of RA Ministry of Nature Protection, says that Sevan is on one scale and 130,000 farmers are on the other.

“There have been years when the gaps have exceeded 170 million cubic meters of water, a delicate approach is needed here. Together with the Ministry of

Agriculture we are discussing the possibility of secondary use of water used by Ararat Valley fish farms. There is a need to use pumps or somehow close the water flow, to rise in the future, and push the irrigation system again. These issues are still in the process of debate and the Government keeps this issue in the spotlight every day,” Manucharyan said.

Ashot Harutyunyan, RA Deputy Minister of Agriculture, says that there are cultivated lands in Ararat valley and some parts of Aragatsotn that have irrigation water demand.

“In case of preserving the positive mark from Sevan, irrigation water should be provided to those lands that are currently being cultivated and there is a need to save the crop. In that sense, we have a demand today. There is not only the positive high temperature but also there is great evaporation, we have had short spring, spring precipitation, the waters did not contribute to plant vegetation, normal growth. If the plants were to provide normal vegetation, they would have survival lack of water and would provide normal maturation but at the moment there is such a problem,” Harutyunyan said.

He adds that the only means of irrigation is the provision of additional water from Lake Sevan, otherwise we will have a loss of crops in cultivated areas.

Silva Adamyan, Environmental Public Alliance Coordinator, underlines that Lake Sevan is the wealth of Armenia and has no price.

“Every year, we hear that we have agricultural problems in the Ararat Valley where the villagers are complaining of irrigation. We decided to make an inquiry in the villages of the Ararat Valley and found out that when the water from Lake Sevan started to be released, the situation remained unhealthy in the villages, irrigation problems were not resolved. I do not know where that water goes, I can only guess,” Adamyan said.

To watch the video click here.

Lilit Arakelyan, Editor-coordinator at “Media Center”

To contact the author please send an email to Lilitarakelyan@pjc.am.

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