By Nigar Orujova
Despite their recoverable nature, the diminishing global water resources pose a real danger to the nature. This danger recognizes no borders.
Water resources play an integral part in the environmental ecosystems, human societies and economies.
The River Aras running via the territory of two South Caucasus republics - Azerbaijan and Armenia – begins from Turkey and ends in Iran. The generous river is regarded as one of the major water supply sources of all the four countries that it passes through.
All the mentioned countries except Armenia respect boundaries and natural recourses of their neighbors. Now, Armenia’s dangerous plan to make a large reservoir on the River Aras in Ararat plain may pose a real threat to the regional water security.
Water transfer from the River Aras can lead to the reduction in the downstream of the river leading to drying up of it in some places, ecologists expect.
Any manipulation at the trans-boundary River Aras will undoubtedly affect people living along the river, as its water is mainly used for drinking and irrigation.
Every country of the world has its own natural beauty and richness, sharing the treasures of the unique planet.
Azerbaijan shares its prominent jewel, the Caspian Sea basin, with Russia, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Iran. Moreover, the country has some 8,400 large and flat rivers, with the two major water-carrying rivers Kura and Aras. Both rivers play a major part in economy, agriculture and population of Azerbaijan.
The country supports all the international conventions including the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes.
This convention aims to strengthen measures at the local, national and trans-boundary levels to protect and ensure the quantity, quality and sustainable use of trans-boundary water resources.
Today, the convention is supported by some 37 countries and the European Union. However, there are still countries that do not meet these requirements for the stability of the water resources in the region.
"The construction of a major new reservoir in Armenia may become a threat to Azerbaijan,” Telman Zeynalov, Chairman of the Environmental Council of the Azerbaijani Ecology and Natural Resources Ministry, said to a local press.
“Armenia may use the water of the River Aras at most by 50 percent. These are the rules of the UNECE Convention on Transboundary Waters. This river originating in Turkey passes through Armenia and goes further to Azerbaijan and Iran. The problem is that Armenia has not accepted this convention, so it is unlikely to comply with its rules," he believes.
The ecologist warned that Armenia’s use of over 50 percent of River Aras water would put Azerbaijan in a very unpleasant position.
"It is worth remembering the drying up of Lake Urmia, taking into account that Iran takes 50 percent of Aras water. If Armenia begins doing this as well, our country will be in a crisis. We will completely lose our land yields and salinization and desertification will occur. Especially considering the fact that there is already a shortage of water at present," he stressed.
Azerbaijan due to its climate and natural resources has limited water resources. The country is ranking the last among the South Caucasus region for per area and per capita amount of water, while life in the Caucasus region mainly depends on usage, distribution and protection of water.
The amount of water per unit area and per capita in Azerbaijan is less than its neighboring Georgia in 7.7 and 8.3 times, and in Armenia in 2.2 and 1.7 times.
The World Health Organization reports that over 70 percent of the human diseases are connected with drinking poor quality water.
In Azerbaijan, there are over 61 reservoirs with a total volume of 1 billion cubic meters. One of them, Sarsang reservoir, located in Agdere region, is under Armenian occupation for more than 20 years.
Moreover, as a result of Armenian military aggression, a lot of reservoirs, water tanks, ponds, rivers, lakes and springs, which are of great importance for agriculture of Azerbaijan, are under Armenian control for two decades.
Shortage of the water in the major South Caucasus rivers is a real danger.
This summer became a real survival test for many agricultural farms in Azerbaijan because of the strong drought, heat and rainless weather. The drought has destroyed crops fields in Azerbaijan’s Shaki, Shamakhi and Gobustan regions, and affected productivity of the farms in other southern regions of the country.
Commissioning a large water reservoir near Vedi town is expected to significantly reduce the flow of spring flooding in the River Aras that runs to Azerbaijan from Armenia.
Armenia also pollutes Kura and Aras rivers with industrial waste which are the main sources of drinking water in Azerbaijan. Such harmful moves create difficulties for the country and poses great ecological problems not only for Azerbaijan but also for the entire region.
Azerbaijan has already signed agreement on the usage rules of water and energy resources of the River Aras with Iran. Under the agreement, Azerbaijan and Iran should use the river's water and energy resources at the same level.
Exploitation of the new water reservoir in Armenia is posing a danger to the whole region and should be taken seriously by the countries enjoying water of the Aras River.