Kristine Aghalaryan

Shrinking Water Table in Ararat Valley Threatens Metsamor Plant, Says USAID Rep

A recent press conference in Yerevan focused on the Ararat Valley’s decreasing water reserves and the steps needed to stem the trend. Many experts point to the expansion of fish farming as the main culprit.

Armavir Provincial Governor Ashot Ghahramanyan says that some 20% of the fish farming operations in his district have been shut down in an effort to stem the continuing decrease of the underground water aquifers.

Karen R. Hilliard, the USAID Mission Director to Armenia, says that this wasn’t a problem just 6-8 years ago but that the unrestricted growth of fish farms and unregulated water usage has made it one.

Hilliard noted that shrinking water levels pose a very real threat in the summer months when there isn’t enough water to cool the nuclear reactors at the Metsamor reactor.

She argues that the issue has become one of national strategic significance for Armenia that demands a political and technical solution.

Hilliard recently announced that the USAID is ready to support all sides in the matter, including fish farmers, to enact ways for the more efficient use of water and to introduce new water technologies to save the Ararat Valley.

Results from a recent study conducted under the auspices of the USAID’s “Clean Energy and Water” program reveal some disturbing trends.

For example, 120 deep water wells of the 303 operating in the Metsamor Basin have dried up and 77 fish farms in the area have gone belly up in the last three years due to a lack of water.