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Russian Defence Ministry to help bring water to Crimea

MOSCOW, May 03. /ITAR-TASS/. 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 earlier this week.

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.

However, Crimean Prime Minister Sergei Aksyonov said restrictions on the supply of water to Crimea were an act of sabotage on the part of Ukraine.

“Ukraine’s act of sabotage to limit the supply of water to the republic through the North Crimean Canal is nothing but a deliberate action against Crimeans,” he said.

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.

The prime minister said that the Crimean authorities were engaged in negotiations with all agricultural producers who have been cut off from water supply from the North Crimean Canal. “The rice situation … is the worst. Crimea is redrawing the map of crop areas in regions where irrigation may not be available,” he said, adding that alternative areas were being offered to agricultural producers.

According to Ukrainian news agencies, Kiev has shut down the work of the North Crimean Canal which carried water from the Dnepr to Crimea. The peninsula got 85% of fresh water from this canal, which was built in 1961-1971.