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Drought Leads to "Unprecedented" Water Crisis in Stepanakert City

Stepanakert City is facing an unprecedented water shortage due to the drought amid the summer heat. 30% of the capital city of Artsakh has no water supply. The country’s emergency situations ministry and the water operator have set up a joint task force responsible for transporting drinking water on vehicles to residents.

Gagik Poghosyan, the Director of Jrmugh-Koyughi, the country’s water supply operator, told ARMENPRESS that there’s been no rain over the past 40 days, and temperatures are steadily above 30 C.

But there is another reason for the shortage, he said. “10-15 thousand displaced people are living in Stepanakert now. Before the war, 60-61 thousand people lived in Stepanakert, now the population is 75 thousand. Naturally, water consumption increased and the waters feeding the city declined, leading to a chaotic situation. As of this moment 30% of the city has no water. We are trying to maintain the remaining 70% so it doesn’t decline as well,” he said, adding that they have already started using two Soviet-era artesian wells. “We continue finding and using the rest.” This “unprecedented” situation started since August 7, he said. “We are waiting for rain.”

Poghosyan dismissed rumors on Azerbaijan deliberately having cut off the water supply from a nearby dam.

State Service of Emergency Situations spokesperson Hunan Tadevosyan told ARMENPRESS that their officers are distributing water to citizens in various districts all day long. Firefighting engines are dispatched to help supply the water.

Tadevosyan said the city has faced water shortage before, but never for this long.

The city of Stepanakert gets its water supply from the Meghraget, Hraget and Vararak rivers. The waters in two of the rivers have dropped almost by half, while the third river dried up entirely.

Amid the emergency, Stepanakert Mayor Davit Sargsyan ordered all car washes and leisure facilities to stop using water until the situation is resolved.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Security Council of Artsakh Vitaly Balasanyan convened a meeting on August 8 over the matter. Officials briefed Balasanyan that situational measures are being taken to supply water to the population, and that at the same time they are working to increase the level of carrying capacity of the active artesian well network.

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