YEREVAN, July 9 /ARKA/. In response to Armenian environmentalists’ warning that the country’s largest lake Sevan is facing a serious threat from algae and falling water levels, Minister of Environment Erik Grigoryan provided explanation why the lake is “blooming”.
He said there are several reasons. One is the growth of blue-green algae, which he said is being observed also in the Black Sea and the Russian Lake Baikal. “All waste and sewer waters of Gegharkunik region, where the lake is flow into Sevan, as well as all pollutants from coastal hotels and restaurants, as well as organic substances,” he said.
“The main reason is the falling level of the lake. The planned rise of 6 meters should help to slow down the growth of algae and improve the quality of water in the lake,” the minister said.
Grigoryan added that the drop in the level is the outcome of the excessive water withdrawal and the state of the Arpa-Sevan tunnel that takes the waters of Arpa River to the lake.
He said a string of criminal cases have been initiated against water users associations which are accused of causing 2.8 billion drams worth damages via a set of falsifications and fictitious contracts. Another criminal case has been launched into misuse of funds released for the repair of the tunnel.
On June 12, Grigoryan said that no additional water will be pumped form the lake for irrigation purposes.
The 48.3 km-long Arpa-Sevan tunnel is supplying Lake Sevan with waters of Arpa and Yeghegis rivers. Lake Sevan is the largest body of water in Armenia and the Caucasus region. It is also one of the largest fresh water high-altitude lakes in Eurasia.
The Lake is situated in Gegharkunik province at an altitude of 1,900 m above sea level. Its’ basin’s total surface area is about 5,000 km2, which makes up 1⁄6 of Armenia’s territory. The lake itself is 1,242 km2. It is fed by 28 rivers and streams. Sevan has significant economic, cultural, and recreational value. Its only island (now a peninsula) is home to a medieval monastery.