Saturday, 17 May 2014
Crimea ready to live without water only to be with Russia
The Crimea, due to acute shortage of water (after the peninsula was cut from the North Crimean Canal) lost the harvest of rice. The territory, with which Russia reunited as a result of the referendum held amid the Ukrainian crisis, faces serious problems with irrigation of both fields and private gardens. While Kiev continues to set forth new conditions to the Crimea for resuming exports from the Dnieper, the Russian Federation urgently consider projects to supply the Crimea with water. Kiev closed the floodgates of the North Crimean Canal, which supplied the whole of the Crimea with water, on April 26. A week later, it was reported that 40 kilometers far from the Crimea, a dam was being built in the canal to block the water from the Dnieper to the territory of the peninsula. Thus, Ukraine has left the breakaway republic without fresh water almost in the midst of the most important season for agriculture, not to mention summer tourism. In an exclusive interview with Pravda.Ru, the mayor of the capital of the Crimea, the city of Simferopol, Viktor Ageyev, said that the shortage of water in the Crimea was always a problem. "Imagine that many people in the Crimea could use water for two hours in the morning and two hours in the evening for 30 years. This was common practice in residential areas, in apartment buildings. In private houses, people have not seen water in their houses for more than 50 years. During all these decades, local residents had to go to water tank trucks with buckets. We have set ourselves a goal to relieve people of this problem. At first, together with the Council of Ministers of the Crimea, we built an extra reservoir, a pumping station and a water line on one of the waterworks. This allowed to supply water for half of the day to the south-west of Simferopol. The people took a breath of relief when, after 30 years, they could no longer live on a water supply schedule. Today, we are finishing works to supply water to another group of privately-owned buildings, where people have not seen water in their backyards for decades." However, according to the head of the Crimean capital, even as a result of the work that has been done already, it is impossible to live without the North Crimean Canal, because "there was always a threat of the shortage of snow and rain water in reservoirs." The current Ukrainian authorities said that they could cut the Crimea from water supplies even before the Crimeans voted to reunite with Russia on March 16. As a matter of fact, Kiev set forth such a threat almost immediately when it became clear that the Crimeans were going to separate from Ukraine. Today, when the threats materialized, and Crimean officials have to urgently seek solutions to new problems, the Kiev authorities start to set forth their conditions. It was reported, with reference to a member of the State Council of the Crimea Edip Gafarov, that Kiev was ready to resume the supply of water to the Crimea if the latter repayed the debt of 200 thousand dollars for the supplied water and returned the equipment that was used in the Crimean water system (which is quite worn out). The Russian side already has several projects for solving the problem of fresh water in the Crimea. It goes about the construction of a water reservoir in the steppe part of the Crimea through artesian wells. It is also possible to build a water pipeline from Russia's Kuban region. However, the second option is impossible without the construction of the bridge, which would connect with the Crimea with Russian land borders. The chairman of the State Duma Committee on Natural Resources, Environment and Ecology, Vladimir Kashin, told Pravda.Ru: "An interdepartmental committee was established to deal not only with the assessment of the situation, but also with the development of activities that need to be urgently implemented to solve two main problems: uninterrupted supply of quality drinking water to the Crimea, - says Vladimir Kashin. - The second problem is related to irrigation water to prevent an environmental disaster and disruption of the beautiful ecosystem of the Crimean peninsula. In the 1950s, the Crimea was a scorched steppe." The next step is to fill natural water reservoirs and build additional ones, especially in the foothills, where it is possible to collect water in certain periods of time. And, of course, on the peninsula, one needs to introduce new technologies and drip irrigation. In the meantime, residents of the Crimea and its capital will have to go through a difficult period of water shortage. "The Crimeans are ready for it, - a Senator of the Federation Council, member of the Supreme Council of the Crimea, Sergey Tsekov told Pravda.Ru. - Of course, it will be a difficult period, especially for agriculture. With regard to drinking water, we will not have any particular problems at this point. We have large reserves of water in natural reservoirs, we have large reserves of underground water too. In the past, we used wells in rural areas, and now we will have new opportunities to drill new wells, so we believe that for us this problem is surmountable. It forces us to mobilize to search for more water. As they say, every cloud has a silver lining. Consequences of the reunification with Russia were easy to foresee, but, of course, it is most important, what we are today with Russia, that there will be peace and harmony on our land. I'm sure that we will solve these and many other problems. Most of all, I'm sure that Crimea will become a budget-forming region of the Russian Federation."