Opinion of Experts

Planning and management is a mechanism for implementing the new sustainable methods in parallel with other steps to maintain integrated management of the Lake territory and catchment basin.

After the disruption of the Lake Sevan basin stability by artificial lowering of the water level by 20.2 m, it became obvious that it is necessary to create a new powerful strategy to develop and implement new water scheme planning and management arrangements, including legally enforceable limits on the amounts of water taken for consumption needs.

Siranuish Muradyan, head of the department of Dendropark management at the Natural resources management agency of the Ministry of Nature Protection. Starting from 2003 the Global Ecological Fund and the World Bank have been financing the Natural Resources Management and the Poverty Reduction program that also include plans for solution of the Lake Sevan problem. The restoration project provides for an increase in the Lake water level by 6 m within a 30-year period (20 cm annually) bringing it to its level of 1957.

“Water management led to the Lake water level increase since 2002 whereas cleaning works started in 2005 in extreme conditions”. According to her, when organic materials appear underwater, they break the ecosystem balance.

According to Rafael Hovhannisyan (leading scientist, director of the Institute of Hydroecology and Ichthyology of NAS RA) said: “The increase of the Sevan water level can be only positive for the whole ecosystem of the lake.  Having additional water resource is a necessity for having strategic reserve, because 80% of drinking and irrigation water in Armenia is provided by Sevan. No one can predict the degree of the air temperature increase in the future causing increase in the evaporation of water in Lake Sevan”.

However, the new developed strategy did not take into consideration the flooding problem of territories due to the water level rise. And as a result around 450 ha of land went under water, 215 of which were forestlands. According to some calculations in case of the water level rise up to 1,900 m above the sea level, about 1,797 ha of land would be flooded, 1,037 ha of which are forestlands. By the RA Government Decrees of 2005-2006, 147 million AMD were allocated for underwater cleaning works of the vegetated and forest areas of the Lake Sevan basin. In total, 215 ha have been cleaned. The water level wasn’t expected to rise so rapidly. The lakeside cleaning works were planned to start in 2007.

Vahe Gulanyan (ecologist of the Sevan National Park) says that the land layer is thicker in Vardenis area; consequently, great difficulties are encountered while cleaning. “Area cleaning is implemented by various organizations participating and winning tenders. So far the Sevan National Park received 1,500 m2 of timber as a result of cleaningsbut  some areas are impossible to clean because of the rapid increase of the water level, as well as lack of sufficient funds”.

Bardukh Gabrielyan (leading scientist, director of the Scientific Center of Zoology and Hydroecology of NAS RA) called the attention of the Government to the problem of fish reproduction: “There are no resources for fish reproduction in the Lake except for crucian carp. Whitefish has disappeared. Fortunately, Armenia’s Ministry of Nature Protection has elaborated a program in recent years. Under this program it was decided to let fingerling into Lake Sevan for the purpose of recovering the trout and its population. But since no one followed the advice of the scientists, a new problem arose: full-grown fish have to spawn in rivers, but they have been caught by poachers on their way to the spawning area. It means that the Government is wasting money by purchasing fingerling from private sector.”

To develop a proper program on recovering the Lake Sevan catchment basin, the characteristic of each ecological component should be considered to test the potential changes that might result from various levels of water recovery,   considering the effect of the suggested approaches and assumptions on the results and the ability to implement the designed flow regimes. Understanding the sensitivity of the results would allow to predict the possible risks of water level rise or fall (seasonal changes should be considered as well) and help to develop a project avoiding negative effects.

The current project proposed by the Government includes the Lake water level recovery, which could be reached by reducing the use of water for consumption purposes. Implementation of the project will result in the Lake Sevan ecosystem balancing.