ARARAT VALLEY’S WATER CHALLENGES: CONDITION OF THE ARTESIAN BASIN AND PROSPECTS FOR RESOURCE CONSERVATION

Today the Conference “Prospects of Sustainable Water Resources Management in the Ararat Valley” took place in Yerevan to discuss the water challenges in the region and their negative consequences for Armenia.

Organized by the USAID’s Advanced Science and Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project, the Conference unveiled the current state of the artesian basin and the potential for long-term conservation and sustainable use of the groundwater resources in the Ararat Valley.

During the Conference, the ASPIRED Project presented the values of estimated groundwater reserves, recharge rates and the sustainable volume of the groundwater abstraction from the artesian aquifers of the Ararat Valley. The water supply and demand estimates point to a significant water deficit in the region, mostly caused by intensive human activity and resource overuse by different sectors. According to the data of 2016, the negative difference between water supply and demand in the Ararat Valley artesian basin was estimated to 1,120 mln. cubic meters of water. 

Until recently, the Government decisions on the groundwater abstraction levels were based on the data of 1983-1984. The Government introduced the policies and regulations to curb the over-abstraction and regulate activities of water users. Yet, the ASPIRED Project data shows there is still a 46% gap between the actual volume of groundwater abstracted in the Ararat Valley in 2016 and the sustainable rate enacted by the Government.

For over 25 years, the United States Government and the Government of Armenia have cooperated to address challenges in the water sector. In order to best support this effort, we needed access to data.  How can we know how much water is being lost, and how best to address it, without real-time numbers?  But the data being used was almost 40 years old.  We knew that in order to really understand the amount of water loss in the Ararat Valley, that we would need more current information.  That is where USAID’s support came into play. We hope that through this collaboration, we will all be able to help restore water reserves in this critical region for agriculture and home to the Metsamor Nuclear Power Plant” – David Hoffman, USAID/Armenia Acting Mission Director.

Anna Mazmanyan, Deputy Minister of Environment of Armenia, highly appreciated the efforts of USAID and ASPIRED Project.

The comprehensive studies on hydrological and hydrogeological conditions in the Ararat Valley conducted by the ASPIRED project are especially important in terms of analyzing the source, properties and condition of groundwater resources. This is necessary for identifying the technical solutions for the use of these resources. Being the most precious natural resource, artesian water is widely used both for drinking and economic purposes. The findings presented in the project report will enable us to develop a comprehensive and integrated approach to sustainable management of water resources…” -Deputy Minister Mazmanyan.    

The data presented by the ASPIRED project can serve the basis for the Government of Armenia to elaborate balanced water sector policies and regulations, which give priority to the long-term resource conservation objectives while meeting the region’s water needs. This essentially calls for action by the private and public water users – local communities, energy, industries, farms. fish-farms, and the larger public – towards a more conscious approach to water consumption and adoption of water saving technologies. 

The artesian basin contains significant groundwater reserves used for domestic, irrigation, fish-farming and industrial purposes. Water is also used for cooling of Metsamor power plant. The studies revealed that the groundwater levels have decreased by 6.0-9.0 meters on average (up to 15 meters in some places), and the artesian zone has shrunk by around 67% over the recent decade. The negative over-exploitation dynamics disturbs the water balance and the recharge potential of the aquifer, reducing the region’s water availability and putting the country’s food and energy security at risk. Over 30 communities in the Ararat Valley face drinking and irrigation water problems due to resource depletion. 

REPORT LINKS

ASPIRED Project report on the water supply, water supply and demand balance of the Ararat Valley as well as the summary paper of the stakeholders’ recommendations and comments can be downloaded through the links below:

Report on Calculated Values of Water Balance and Water Supply and Demand Balance in the Ararat Valley Using Modeling of the Ararat Valley Groundwater Basin  — https://bit.ly/3hi9pSL

Summary of the Stakeholders’ Comments and Recommendations (in Armenian)  https://bit.ly/33y43uG

Invitation for Bids։ Well Sealing Work

IFB # 290421-01

Invitation for Bids (IFB) for

Well Sealing Work

Under the Project on Decommissioning of Artesian Well in Griboyedov Village

USAID/Armenia Advanced Science & Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project is soliciting bids for implementation of well sealing operation under the project Decommissioning of Artesian Well in Griboyedov Village.

Bidders are invited to submit their bids in accordance with the Instructions to Bidders below:

Bids must be submitted no later than 17:00, Yerevan Time, on May 13, 2021. Each bidder must submit an electronic copy of the bid to aspired@engl.com.

Groundwater Modeling: New Tools for Decision-Makers

ASPIRED Project has completed a two-week training program on groundwater modeling designed for the representatives of the Ministry of Environment and academic institutions. The training helped the participants to learn and practice sophisticated software tools for groundwater modeling: ArcHydrgoGroundwater (AHGW), GMS and Modflow tools.

To understand the state of the Ararat Valley’s groundwater resources and resilience to changing conditions and external pressures, the ASPIRED Project designed the three-dimensional model and the groundwater flow model of the artesian basin aimed at supporting more informed and data-driven decision making on groundwater resources. The 3D model of the Ararat Artesian Basin presents the hydrogeologic structure and the water bearing potential of the basin, while the groundwater flow model provides data on the water pressure, water availability and balance, water movement directions in the water-bearing layers of the artesian basin. The model can help decision-makers to predict improvement in the pressure or level increases/drops in water bearing layers of the Artesian basin.

During the training participants had the opportunity to exercise 3D modeling using AHGW tools, creating and importing map data files, and creating and calibrating a MODFLOW model. The trainees practiced use of the Ararat Valley groundwater flow model by updating it with suggested new data on monitoring points, water abstraction points, groundwater abstraction and making relevant adjustments.

“During the training we designed a 3D model of three water-bearing layers of the Ararat Valley artesian basin based on the inventory data of 2016. […] In my opinion, the training was highly relevant and effective for the specialists of water sector agencies interested in the creation of similar models. By working with the models, inputting new data, and considering different scenarios, the specialists will be able to make projections on the impact of the groundwater abstraction increase or reduction and the possible positive or negative dynamics of the groundwater resources. I am sure, the application of these models will contribute to a more sustainable management of groundwater resources.” – Harutyun Yeremyan from the Hydrometeorology and Monitoring Center of the Ministry of Environment shared his feedback at the end of the course.

At the end of the training, participants received a full package of information including the User Manual, the three-dimensional model and groundwater flow model of the Ararat Valley’s artesian basin as well as support data templates and data for simulation of the models. ASPIRED team will further assist participants to activate the modeling software and provide necessary guidance.

Invitation for Bids: Development of SCADA System

Invitation for Bids (IFB) for

Development of a Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition software (SCADA system) for the automated online centralized management system in the fish farms of the Ararat Valley

USAID/Armenia Advanced Science & Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project is soliciting Bids for the Development of a software package (SCADA system) for the automated online centralized management system in the fish farms of the Ararat Valley. Bidders are invited to submit their Bids in accordance with the Instructions to Bidders provided below:

Bids must be submitted no later than 17:00, Yerevan Time, on May 6, 2021. Each bidder must submit an electronic copy of the bid to aspired@engl.com.

New Training Program on Assessing Self-Purification Capacity of Rivers

The training on the Method of Assessment of Self-Purification Capacity of Rivers is underway, organized by the ASPIRED Project for the staff of the Ministry of Environment and academic sector representatives who will be using the Method in their work. 

During the 8-day course, the training participants will be introduced to the main – hydro-biological, hydro-chemical, and hydro-morphological components comprising the Method and the analysis conducted by the working group during the elaboration of the Method. The training focuses on the impact and the role of the hydro-biological, hydro-chemical and hydro-morphological parameters in the self-purification potential of the river. During the practical part, the participants will make assessments and test each component on the examples of Qasakh and Akhuryan rivers. It is anticipated that by the end of the course trainees will be able to master the Excel tool for the automatic assessment of the hydro-morphological, hydro-biological, and hydro-chemical data determining the rivers’ self-purification capacity and generate a single index from separate hydro-morphological, chemical and biological indexes.  

The Method of Assessment of Self-Purification Capacity of Rivers was elaborated by the ASPIRED Project by the request of the Ministry of Environment and is included into the five-year Action Plan of the Government with a specific deadline for its implementation.  

The method considers the water eco-system as a uniform body, the performance of which is affected by a complexity of factors. “Our methodology allows us assessing the impact of various contamination sources on rivers and the natural ability of rivers to neutralize this pollution. This methodology is universal as it gives an opportunity to assess not only the impact of settlements but also the influence of mining, or various industrial, agricultural pollution sources and how the eco-system overcomes this in a natural way,” – Liana Margaryan, ASPIRED Project Water Quality Expert.  

Invitation for Bids։ Supply of Materials and Implementation of Construction Work

Invitation for Bids (IFB)  

For Supply of Materials and Implementation of Construction Work  

Under Optimization of Irrigation System in Griboyedov Village 

USAID/Armenia Advanced Science & Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project is soliciting bids for construction of aqueducts and sluice chambers under the project on Optimization of Irrigation System in Griboyedov  Village. 

Bidders are invited to submit their bids in accordance with the Instructions to Bidders provided below.  

Bids must be submitted no later than 17:00, Yerevan Time, on April 26, 2021. Each bidder must submit an electronic copy of the bid to aspired@engl.com

Two Projects in Griboyedov Community

ASPIRED will implement two projects in the community of Griboyedov in Armavir region of Armenia: optimization of irrigation system and permanent sealing of an unused artesian well.

Agriculture is the main occupation for the local residents. Farmers grow fruits, vegetables, cereals and other crops; have orchards and vineyards. The current project will improve the irrigation efficiency on the community farmlands by reducing water losses and return to cultivation 7 hectares of land.

ASPIRED will also seal one of the unused wells owned by the community. This self-emitting well has the outflow of 15 liters per second, water running into the nearby drainage network. About 475,000 cubic meters of groundwater will be saved per year due to the two projects implemented in the community by the ASPIRED Project. About 12 households will benefit from the project by gaining access to irrigation water and an opportunity to cultivate their land.

Invitation for Bids: Supply and Installation of a Photovoltaic Kit

IFB # 020421-01 

USAID/Armenia Advanced Science & Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project is soliciting Bids for the supply and installation of a PV kit under Renewable Energy for Fish-Farming project.  Full IFB document can be downloaded via the link below:

Bids must be submitted no later than 17:00, Yerevan Time, on April 16,2021. Each bidder must submit an electronic copy of the bid to aspired@engl.com

Invitation for Bids: Restoration and Refurbishment of Monitoring Wells

Invitation for Bids (IFB)

Restoration and Refurbishment of Monitoring Wells # 192 and # 2063 of the National Groundwater Monitoring Network in the Ararat Valley

IFB Number: 300321-01

USAID/Armenia Advanced Science & Partnerships for Integrated Resource Development (ASPIRED) Project is soliciting Bids for the restoration and refurbishment of monitoring well #192 of the National Groundwater Monitoring Network, located in Vardanashen community of Armavir Marz and monitoring well #2063 of the National Groundwater Monitoring Network, located in Dalar community of Ararat Marz, under the project concept Restoration and Refurbishment of Monitoring Wells #192 and # 2063 of the National Groundwater Monitoring Network in the Ararat Valley.

Bidders are invited to submit their Bids in accordance with the Instructions to Bidders provided below.

Bids must be submitted no later than 17:00, Yerevan Time, on April 13, 2021. Each bidder must submit an electronic copy of the bid to aspired@engl.com.