In an attempt to save Lake Sevan from drying out and turning into a swamp, the Armenian government undertook in 2000 a dramatic rise of water level in the country’s largest water reservoir. Plans are working, water is rising, but the ‘rescue’ part is somehow failing spectacularly…
Shrinkage of the lake had begun in 1950s, when Soviet governments ruthlessly used the water for irrigation, generating electricity, striving to meet the “5 year economic plans in 4 years” and building a bright communism future.
Environmentalists had long warned that Sevan’s enlargement is the only way of saving its endangered ecosystem.
The picturesque lake, which has a total surface of almost 1,000 square kilometers, has since been mainly swollen by two underground tunnels pumping water from mountain rivers. The government’s decision to cut back on use of Sevan’s waters for power generation and irrigation has also greatly contributed to rise of water level, which has soared by at least 3 meters over the past decade and currently stands at just over 1,900 meters above the sea level. About half of the surge has occurred in the last three years.
Under the government’s long-term rehabilitation program, Sevan is to rise by another 3.5 meters by 2029. It envisages that further growth will be less drastic and average roughly 20 centimeters per annum.
The process, strongly supported by Armenian ecologists, has created a separate environmental problem threatening to turn the hitherto clean lake into a swamp. Sevan’s rising waters have submerged large swathes of shore covered with man-made forests.
The state-run Sevan National Park and regional authorities failed to fully cleanse land of trees and other vegetation on time, despite funds allocated by the central government. State prosecutors launched last month criminal proceedings into the alleged misappropriation of those funds by officials and private contractors.
Now the government has purchased special equipment from Finland used for uprooting trees and that it will be delivered to Armenia later this month. It remains to be seen, how this new rescue plan will turn out.
Lead photo and story idea: ianyanmag.com