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Official News

Monday, 27 December 2004


Today Prime Minister A. Margaryan, Chairman of RA National Water Council, has called a meeting of the Council to discuss issues relating to the legislative reforms in the field of water management and to the concept of the long-term program for dam construction etc.


With reference to agenda item one, Mr. Vardan Aivazyan, RA Minister for Environmental Protection, and Mr. Andranik Andriasyan, Chairman of the State Water Committee under RA Government reported that the new Water Code of the Republic of Armenia as adopted by the NA on June 4, 2004 had formed the basis of the legal framework applicable in the field of water use. To reduce the impact of adverse effects on water resources and ensure efficient use of the mineral wealth of the Republic, the legislature had passed the RA law on environmental charges and user fees coupled with a number of concomitant legal acts. According to Mr. Aivazyan, to provide for the effectiveness of the new Water Code, since 2002 the government has approved about 45 normative acts and regulations streamlining the obtention and eventual transfer of water-user licences, the procedure set for the free use of water etc. In particular, the speaker stressed the importance of the government decree establishing the procedure for the assessment of the impact of economic activity on water resources. It was noted that a number of papers such as the outline of the national water program, the draft strategy for water-user fees, the government-approved draft law on the principles governing the national water management policies had been designed with the assistance of the USAID. The Minister for Environmental Protection reported that the agency was expected to extend financial backing to fund the drafting of the national water management program.


According to Mr. Andranik Andriasyan, in 2002 the State Water Committee submitted for government approval 2 drafts of RA laws, 8 drafts of government decisions and 2 drafts of Prime Minister's decrees. In 2003, 21 drafts of government decisions were prepared all of which were subsequently approved by the Cabinet. 2 of the 5 draft government decrees proposed for government consideration in 2004 were approved with the remaining 3 drafts being under review at the moment. Another draft government decision is expected out in 2005 with the draft RA law on drinking water to be submitted in 2006. The speaker noted that the process of forwarding irrigation systems and other assets to corporate water-users and, subsequently, to their associations for free use was underway with te latter expected to be set up in the near future.


By emphasizing the need in expediting the development of the national program for water management, the Prime Minister instructed the ministries and public agencies concerned to better coordinate their activities and enhance efficiency in the work with international financial institutions.


Mr. Robert Nazaryan, chairman of the RA regulatory commission for public services, has reported on the status of the minimum standards laid down for drinking and industrial water supply services. He indicated that a considerable amount of work had been done towards this end in the period under review. In particular, a minimum requirement of 4-hour daily supply under improved sanitary conditions had been established. At the same time, considering the comprehesiveness of the problem, he noted that this process would take some time to complete. In view of the above, the chairman of the commission suggested to put off the deadline set for the submission of summary information until the first quarter of 2005 when the outcome of the work done would be more tangible.


The meeting has also discussed the information delivered on the concept of the prospective program for dam construction which, according to the chairman of the State Water Committee, sought the substantiation of the necessity of having a strategic paper to provide maximum regulatory possibilities for the management of water resources available in the Republic. The speaker noted that 82 reservoirs had already been built to that effect. The aggregate capacity of the existing reservoirs permits to accumulate 20-25% of overall water resources of the Republic of which some 10-15% are used for irrigation purposes. Mr. Andriasyan believes that by making the best possible use of the existing opportunities for the construction of 10 unfinished sites, 22 projects under development and other 66 ones in the process of feasibility study it would be possible to create 1,74bn cubic meters of additional water storing capacities which coupled with the the existing 1,4bn cubic meters would take the yearly total to 4,5-5bn. This would make it possible to address such issues of strategic importance as the extension of the irrigated land area up to 450.000 ha, the substitution of mechanically-irrigated systems with the ones operated by natural flow, the identification of new sources of energy, ensuring steady water supply to the regions short of water resources etc. The speaker noted that considering the necessity of huge capital investments in the sphere of dam construction, it had better phased over 3 stages

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