ASPIRED pilot projects with application of locally appropriate and cost effective water and energy efficiency technologies at different water use areas and fish farms in the Ararat Valley. Pilot projects are aimed at improving management of natural resources and reducing groundwater extraction levels. A related goal is to make water users more energy efficient and promote application of clean energy technologies.
Introduction of the Automated Online Centralized Management System in the Ararat Valley
The ASPIRED project supports the Armenian Government in improving the management of the groundwater resources in the Ararat Valley through the introduction of the automated online centralized management system in the Ararat Valley.
Implemented in partnership with Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling company as part of the Memorandum of Understanding signed on July 20, 2016, the pilot project focuses on the installation of the flow meters and data loggers on 20 groundwater abstraction points existing in the fisheries. The real time data on the groundwater measurements will be transmitted to a remote server installed in the Ministry of Nature Protection and made available online to users through the web site of the Water Resources Management Agency. The data will be updated every five minutes and stored on a server for up to five years.
At the pilot stage, the system covers four large fisheries of the Ararat Valley – Alex Grig, Inter Aqua, Max Fish, and Unifish companies with limited liability. After the successful launch of the system, the Government plans to extend the network onto other fisheries of the Ararat Valley.
The installation of the automatic monitoring system will ultimately help to enhance the monitoring of the groundwater use in the Ararat Valley and control over the compliance with approved water use permits. Moreover, availability of a reliable data system and analytical tools will provide the basis for more informed decision-making on water resources in the Ararat Valley.
SECONDARY USE OF FISH-FARM WATER FOR IRRIGATION IN SAYAT-NOVA VILLAGE
The Project is implemented by the ASPIRED Project, USAID’s Partnership for Rural Prosperity (PRP) Project, implemented by the Small and Medium Entrepreneurship Development National Center of Armenia (SME DNC), the Fund for Armenian Relief and Sayat-Nova community under a cooperation agreement signed on December 25, 2017. The objective of the project is to ensure irrigation of 60 ha of community farmlands with the use of the outlet water of Masis-Dzuk fish farm. The project includes the following activities:
- Pumping station built in the premises of Masis-Dzuk fish farm with its infrastructure, that will be used to pump water for irrigation of the nearby fields,
- Extension of a pipeline from the pumping station to the upper part of the old irrigation system, so that the water can flow back through the existing aqueducts by gravity
- Rehabilitation of the existing irrigation network and clean-up of existing earth and concrete ditches.
The new irrigation network built with joint effort of the Project partners will be transferred to the community for ownership. Community will be responsible for the exploitation and maintenance of the system for the purposes of the Project.
Immediate results of the Project:
- Community residents – 2400 people,
- Direct project beneficiaries – 98 households,
- Prevention of the use of artesian water for irrigation purposes by the community
- Saving of strategically important groundwater resources: 1,920,000 m3 of water per annum,
- Prevention of soil degradation: at least 60 ha.
ESTABLISHMENT OF THE AQUACULTURE TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER CENTER (ATTC) PROJECT
The Aquaculture Technology Transfer Center is an experimental base for testing, validating and demonstrating various modern aquaculture technologies and methods at smaller scale. The Project is implemented in partnership with Armavir Farmer LLC – a privately-owned fish farm near Metsamor in Armavir region. Once proven successful, these technologies and best practices can be captured and utilized by other fish-farm owners, with the aim of minimizing costs and using existing resources more efficiently.
The following technologies, methods and tools can be tested and demonstrated in the Center:
- Re-circulation; around 70% of the total inflow water will be the recirculated water from the outlet of the fish farm. Only around 30% of the total inflow water will be supplied from the well.
- Passive settling; to remove solid organic particles (fish excretions) from the outlet water without additional energy costs, passive settling will be used. The settled lime will be removed using a simple system of drain pipes and valves.
- Airlifting = aeration + pumping; airlift pumps will be used to combine two functions: enriching the water with oxygen and lifting it to the point of inlet of the following facility.
- Bio-filtration; to convert ammonia (NH4+ and NH3) excreted by the fish into nitrate, outlet water will be channeled through biofilters – a substrate for the bacterial community that use ammonia for energy and produce nitrates from it.
- Phyto-filtration; this will be done in two facilities: a water hyacinth pond and an aquaponic greenhouse technically consisting of sand filters (media for growing the plants) combined with phyto-filters (plants cultivated in the farm). In addition to producing valuable crops, the pond and the greenhouse will work as an integrated filtration facility that cleans the water from nitrates, phosphates and suspended (unsettled) organic particles.
- Use of outlet water for crayfish farming; to avoid excessive concentration of salts and minerals in recirculated water, some amount of fresh water should be constantly added to the system (around 30%). This will naturally cause the overflowing of equivalent (less evaporation and other losses) amount of water from the system. Before the final discharge, the overflow water can be used for crayfish farming, since crayfish is less sensitive to water quality and more sensitive to water temperature (the optimal water temperature for red claw crayfish farming is 27°C).
- Biological treatment of wastewater; the outflow water, after passing through the crayfish ponds will not be usable for any other type of aquaculture production. However, before being discharged into the environment (more specifically the drain channel), it will be treated biologically in a reed-bed (wetland) facility to minimize the impact on the environment. At the same time, the green reed harvested from the wetland will be used as feed stock for the biogas digesters.
- Anaerobic digestion; the wastes from the fish-farm, the greenhouse, the water hyacinth pond and the reed-bed facility can be used to produce biogas. The generated biogas will be used to produce electricity and to heat the water in crayfish ponds.
- Photovoltaic kits; a 15 kW PV kit can be used as an additional source of renewable energy to cover the power demand of the recirculation system.
DECOMMISSIONING OF THE ARTESIAN WELL IN SIPANIK VILLAGE
The ASPIRED launched a project on permanent sealing of the artesian well # 1/403 near Sipanik village, Ararat region. The well had an outflow of 35-40 liters per second, as per estimates. The casing and the upper part of the well tube was damaged. Part of the water from this self-emitting well outflowed into the drainage channel while the rest flooded the neighboring fields, bogging the area and blocking the passage to the local cemetery.
The plan on sealing involved four major phases: 1) assessment of the condition of the well casing; 2) preparation of the site to ensure access to the well for heavy machinery; 3) cleaning the well tube from rubble rubble and any debris that would create ‘pockets’ and reduce the effectiveness of sealing; 4) sealing of the well with a mix of bentonite and neat cement. After the flow has been stopped and the monitoring showed no flow on the outside of the well casing, the upper part of the well (3-4m) was filled with monolith concrete.
This method of well conservation is widely practiced in various countries including United States. Based on the estimated water flow data, the annual saving of artesian groundwater resources as a result of the well sealing will be equal to 1.1 million cubic meters.
IRRIGATION REHABILITATION PROJECT IN HAYANIST
In 2016, the ASPIRED Project in collaboration with Coca-Cola Hellenic Armenia and ERGIS NGO implemented the irrigation system rehabilitation project in Hayanist village, Ararat Marz, targeted to provide more affordable irrigation services via more efficient groundwater use. The essence of the project is to use the outlet water from the fishery near Hayanist community for irrigation of 40 ha of community land. The new pumping station was built at the outlet section of the fishery and the new irrigation network was installed with the use of polyethylene pipes.
Direct human and environmental impact of the project:
- Number of beneficiaries: 370 people from 120 households
- No additional water will be taken from the groundwater aquifers
- Saving of strategic groundwater resources: 1,100,000 m3 annually;
- Saving of electricity on pumping: 24,000 kWh annually;
- Prevention of degradation of soil: 40 ha