The Ararat Valley of Armenia represents the most significant reserve of the groundwater resources of the country. The groundwater extraction in the Ararat Valley has reached unprecedented level in the recent decade, having caused the reduction of the artesian zone by more than 60%. The groundwater level dropped by 9 meters on average, thus leading to tremendous water shortage in the Valley. This overuse of water was largely accounted for by the extensive spread of fish farms in the area. For many years, the fish farms have been using high-quality groundwater in fish production without proper regulation and control.
In response to the situation, starting from 2014, the Government of Armenia has been approving a set of policy and regulatory measures aiming to reverse the situation, such as revision of the groundwater resource use fees and permit conditions, closure of illegal or abandoned wells and tightening of control. The Government’s Program of Priorities for 2017 anticipated introduction of 20 online automated systems for the centralized monitoring of the groundwater use in the fisheries of the Ararat Valley. Overall, the Government’s Program contains 140 priority issues , covering economic and social sectors of the country.
The USAID’s Advanced Science and Partnership for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project and the Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia will install the online monitoring systems in 2017 as part of the Memorandum of Collaboration signed between USAID, the Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia and the Ministry of Nature Protection in July 2016. By the end of the ASPIRED Project in 2020, the USAID will increase the number of online monitoring systems to 40 to include the largest fisheries. Working online, the new system will allow for the real-time monitoring of the groundwater abstraction by the fisheries vis-à-vis allowable limits. This will improve the overall compliance and enforcement mechanism of water use permits. The data will be publicly accessible.