12, 2008

President Serzh Sargsyan directed to set up a Commission to study all the issues related to Lake Sevan

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On December 25, 2008, President Serzh Sargsyan directed to set up a Commission to study all the issues related to Lake Sevan.

Today, President of Armenia invited a working meeting with the participation of the members of the Commission.

Noting, that the purpose of convening the meeting was to launch the works of the Commission and to agree on the main principles of its activities, the timetable, and the expected outcome, President Sargsyan in particular noted the following, “I don’t think it is necessary to dwell on the importance of Sevan for Armenia. All issues related to Sevan and their resolutions are of vital importance for us. The Lake is directly or indirectly relates to a number of areas: environment, agriculture, energy, fishery, free water, etc. It would be easier to mention what area is not affected by Sevan.

Sevan, without any exaggeration, is one of Armenia’s most precious resources, and in the coming decades it will become even more precious and its importance will be only increasing. We must be able to properly preserve and develop this gift of nature, while on the other hand, undoubtedly, to utilize it wisely and fully. It is our duty.

I would like to mention with satisfaction that a lot has been accomplished for the preservation of Sevan in the last ten years. During that period of time, the Vorotan compound became operational, all the hydro-energy stations of the Sevan-Hrazdan cascade were switched to the irrigation regime which means that out of the irrigation season no water will be released from Sevan to produce energy. The issue related to the amount of the water released from the Lake for irrigation purposes was also addressed to a certain extent. Thanks to all these actions, in 2008 compared to 2002 the level of Lake Sevan rose for about 2.5 meters.

I believe another important step was the adoption of the “Law on Lake Sevan”.

Today, we should be able to direct even more efforts to the solution of the Lake’s problems. I hope that the Commission will become a powerful driving force behind that process. I expect just that from the Commission. We must be able to register significant progress on that direction as soon as 2009.”

Clarifying why he has come up with the initiative to set up a commission in this particular time, President Serzh Sargsyan said, “I am not sure why, but we start to speak about, think, and discuss an issue when it becomes a full grown problem. When the problems become unavoidable, we are trying to act as firemen to take them out. I believe, in this case we should create the commission now to be able to solve a number of problems before the irrigation season starts. After some work has been done, in three or four months we will conduct another meeting at the Sevan shore and will discuss together what has been done and what is to be done in the future.”

The President of Armenia identified a number of problems which should be in the center of the Commissions activities:

1. “The Commission will develop practical proposals on the preservation, administration of all structures dealing with the utilization of the Lake’s resources, insuring coordinated operations of all relevant subdivisions and services aimed at the preservation and development of the ecosystem of Sevan,

2. Scientifically supported actions and proposals will be developed to ensure the rise of the Lake’s level to the required point, cleanliness of the water, and restoration of the Lake’s biological diversity,

3. Monitoring will be introduced to ensure that urban development of the central part in the Sevan area is conducted in accordance with the regulations, activities on the shore adjacent territories are organized properly, and relevant proposals will be made,

4. I also expect proposals to ensure Government’s regulations on the preservation and reproduction of fishery stocks, and rules of efficient fishing,

5. The most urgent among the measures directed at the increase of the Lake’s level up to 6 meters is the reconstruction of the damaged section of the Arpa-Sevan tunnel. The reconstruction works should be completed in up to five years. The sequence of the reconstruction works should be decided after a detailed discussion with the specialists. We will certainly find the resources to solve this problem,

6. It is unacceptable that only half of the water released from Sevan gets to the plants and the other half vanishes. On each hectare irrigated by the water from Sevan, the use of water 2-3 times exceed the irrigation norms. A huge work is to be done on this issue and the issue should be addressed in a complex. From now on, the timing and the amount of the water released from Sevan for irrigation purposes will be decided after a comprehensive and compelling study by the Commission. At the same time, practical proposals will be developed to minimize loss of water on all the stages of the water consumption,

7. Starting today the renovation and maintenance works will be launched on the Mkhchian, Ranchpar and Arevshat pumping stations to prepare them for the 2009 irrigation season. It will significantly relieve Sevan’s burden,

8. It is also necessary to develop and implement measures aimed at the cut of losses from the Aparan water reservoir and to regulate water flow to the reservoir,

9. Special attention must be paid to the complex measures to provide for the quality of the water.

Architectural design of the cleansing stations of Gavar, Vardenis, Martuni, and Jermuk must be completed in the first half of 2009, and the construction works must start in the second half of 2009.
Situation with the sewage cleansing in other major towns of the basin should be studied and the cleaning should be conducted gradually.

Strict control over all the activities having negative impact on the ecosystems of the Lake will be enforced; adherence to the regulations, particularly in mining and agriculture activities, will be monitored.”

The Chairman of the Commission, Executive Director of the Armenian Fund for the restoration and development of forests, Vladimir Movsissian said that the establishment of the commission reveals the President’s concern over the existing problems and his determination to solve them. According to Vladimir Movsissian, the Commission comprises professional, high-class experts who possess the necessary experience and abilities to complete the task.

All those present concurred that the establishment of the Commission was extremely timely. Noting, that Sevan has a number of functions, they stressed the importance of a balanced, justified, reasonable, and rational works on all directions.

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