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Larisa Paremuzyan

Dsegh Seas: This Fabled Lake is Gradually Losing Water

Dsegh Tzover (Dsegh Seas) is the name of lake much fabled in the writings of such literary notables as Hovhannes Tumanyan, Avetik Isahakyan, Vahan Deryan, Leo, and others.

Sadly today, the lake located three kilometers southeast of Dsegh village in the north of Armenia, is losing water.

It was a group of Dsegh residents that wrote to Hetq regarding the threat. The lake has no inflow and is mostly fed by underground aquifers and rainwater.

The lake measures 250 meters in length and 200 meters wide at its widest point. Its deepest point measures 4.5 meters.

The water loss, in large part, is being caused by Dsegh resident Shavarsh Shekoyan who has been transporting water out of the lake by a pipe to his stone production facility.

Shekoyan’s operation didn’t pose a threat to the lake when water was pumped in from Marts River for irrigation purposes. Since independence that pumping station hasn’t been operating.

A resident assured me that Dsegh Mayor Norik Kocharyan is aware of what’s going on but prefers to turn a blind eye to the problem. The lake and the shoreline belong to the Dsegh community and the Dsegh forestry unit of HayAntar.

A Hetq team visited the area yesterday. We received a cold reception from Mayor Kocharyan.

“The individual that gave you information about the illegal use of the lake’s water should have contacted the mayor’s office first. If we didn’t takes steps, then he could have gone public,” said Kocharyan, adding that he knew nothing of water being drawn for the stone facility.

“As far as I know, that stone facility has been operating for twenty years. I’ve been mayor for 2.5 years, but I always thought it drew water from another area. Now, if there are problems we’ll deal with them,” the mayor said.

Dsegh Deputy Mayor Samvel Antonyan contradicted his boss. “I know about the water illegally being drawn by Shekoyan’s stone facility. I informed the mayor about this on two occasions, but he refused to put a stop to it. I feel partly to blame,” said Antonyan.

Mayor Kocharyan refused to show us where Shekoyan’s stone facility was located. “There is no such stone facility in these parts,” he told this reporter. But when he realized that I was receiving information by telephone about the facility and the water pipe he reluctantly escorted me to the facility located a mere one kilometer from the lake. 

Even Edik Shekoyan, Shavarsh Shekoyan’s nephew, confessed that the facility is piping water from the lake.

Shavarsh Shekoyan telephoned me to say that he was otherwise engaged and couldn’t meet me. Nevertheless, he repeated the claim made by the mayor that the facility drew water from another mountain spring and not the lake.

Today, Shavarsh Shekoyan was on the phone requesting a meeting with Hetq. He did admit that when he purchased the stone facility a pipe was already connected to the lake. The mayor told us that Shekoyan pays no taxes to the village for using the lake’s water.

Forested areas encircling the southern part of the lake have been subject to illegal felling. We came across a number of trees that have been cut down, oftentimes by vacationers who use the wood to light their picnic fires.

The lake’s shoreline is littered with garbage but the village doesn’t allocate funds to clean the area.

“All we do is a light garbage removal now and then,” the mayor confessed.