MOSCOW, May 05 /ITAR-TASS/. Faced with possible shortages of water after Ukraine’s decision to stop water supplies, Crimea can use water lost during the operation of the North Crimean Canal, according to the draft federal target programme on the socioeconomic development of the peninsula up to 2020 prepared by the Ministry of Regional Development and obtained by ITAR-TASS.
“Crimea’s dependence on supply of water via the North Crimean Canal can be eventually reduced or eliminated by searching for underground water sources, including manmade ones,” the document says, adding that such sources were created by the almost fifty-year-long operation of the canal. The conduit built in 1961-1971 and never repaired since then is worn out so much that about 40% of water transported by it is lost on the way.
Experts also pin hopes on new technologies that can conduct geological prospecting at a depth of 500 metres compared to no more than 200 metres before.
Other solutions would include conditioning water vapours from air using household appliances that can act as both air conditioners and heaters; employing active meteorological impact methods to increase precipitation; and desalinising seawater and salted underground water.
Russia may invest 2.28 billion roubles in desalinisation in Crimea up to 2017.
Crimea has scarce water resources and is one of the most water-deficient parts of Europe. Its eastern regions from Sudak to Kerch have virtually no surface sources of water. Crimea is 82% dependent on external water supplies via the North Crimean Canal that links the Dnepr and the peninsula.
More than two-thirds of all water (600-700 million cubic meters) is used for agricultural purposes and the rest is kept in eight water reservoirs, three of which are now the only source of drinking water in Kerch, the Leninsky District of Crimea, and the cities of Feodosia and Sudak.
“Even a brief halt in water supply from the North Crimean Canal to Crimea will cause a severe shortage of both agricultural and drinking water,” the draft programme said.
Meanwhile, the Russian Defence Ministry will provide army units for helping to supply fresh water to Crimea.
A pipeline battalion of the Western Military District will lay field trunk pipelines within several days to bring fresh water from artesian wells in the south-east of the peninsula. The more than 120 km pipelines will be able to deliver over 9,000 cubic meters of water a day.
Crimea has enough underground drinking water sources and can even solve irrigation problems by storing rain and snow water, Valery Lukyanchikov, deputy director of the All-Russia Research Institute of Hydrogeology and Engineering Geology, told ITAR-TASS.
Explored sources of underground drinking water can give over 1 million cubic metres a day, and since Crimea previously received water from Ukraine via the North Crimean Canal, many water wells were never used. Some of them are now being put into operation.
One of the ways to deal with shortages of water in Crimea is to supply it from central parts of the peninsula to regions that lack it. Another option is desalinisation.
Lukyanchikov has just returned from Crimea where he led a working group that sought to study the situation on the ground.
It will take 10-15 billion roubles to solve the problem of water supply to Crimea, Russian presidential aide Andrei Belousov said.
“Crimea can be independent in terms of water supply, but it will cost 10-15 billion roubles,” he said.
One of the solutions would be supplying water from Russia’s southern Kuban region by building a pipeline. However, Belousov said this would be an “exotic” option.
Another solution would be “drilling wells and using the existing water reservoirs”.
The Ukrainian authorities reduced water supplies to Crimea on April 26 alleging the peninsula owned Kiev a large sum for water.
Crimea’s acting Head Sergei Aksyonov said restrictions on the supply of water to Crimea were an act of sabotage on the part of Ukraine.
Aksyonov said “negotiations are underway with Ukraine at the federal level” to resolve the issue. “There are backup plans. In any case, Crimea will not be left without water. As for drinking water, there are no problems with it,” he said.