Unregulated potable water extraction leads to ecological disaster in Crimea– Taras Berezovets


Kyiv, July 2, 2015. One daunting problem in Crimea is access to potable water. Crimea’s potable water is supplied from sources that have been exploited for many years. “What is going on is uncontrolled extraction of potable water. Wells are being drilled, which leads to the start of an ecological disaster including damage to unique grounds,” said Taras Berezovets, founder of “Free Crimea”, during a discussion at Ukraine Crisis Media Center.

“Potable water is limited. It is advisable not to extract it from the depth where it is deposited,” explained Oleh Dudkin, Executive Director of Ukrainian Society for Protection of Birds.

Ukraine used to cover 85% of Crimea’s needs for fresh water supplied through the Northern Crimean channel that connects the Dnipro’s main streambed with the peninsula.

Following the Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014, water supplies to the peninsula were cut off. Systematic ecological changes have been observed from mid 2014 onward. “The Dnipro’s fresh water, which were earlier available for the peninsula have considerably desalted Syvash. Thus it became impossible for birds living in natural areas of water and bogs, which took over three-dozen years to form, to stay on the peninsula without fresh water,” noted the Dudkin. As of June 2015, the main bird colonies that existed for several dozen years disappeared. “Seven spices of Herring that could be found in Crimea have migrated to Odesa, Kherson, Mykolayiv and Zaporizhia regions. Problems for water and natural bog areas in these regions has considerably increased,” Dudkin added.

Due to unauthorized drilling of wells, the salinity of water in the region has significantly increased. “Water salinity increased two and a half times over 2014, this year by 0,5. It is going to make artesian waters in Crimea unusable,” noted a representative of “Free Crimea” project Roman Ostapchuk.

Illegal waste sites pose another major problem. Only 23 sites out of 269 in Crimea are official. 53 million cubic meters of waste is currently on the peninsula. One more ecological problem is exploration of the gravel quarry at the foothill of Karadag, despite the fact that extraction of deposits in the protected area is prohibited.

Regarding the issue of Crimea’s water supply, Berezovets is confident that the idea to limit the supply of resources to Crimea was wrong. “A more correct way would be to supply everything but at international market prices so that the Russian Federation incurs economic losses for the damage caused,” he explained. However according to Dudkin, Ukraine is ready to supply water but due to the financial reasons, Crimean “authorities” refused to conduct further talks. Dudkin added that after Crimea’s annexation, 21 objects from the natural protected fund of the state importance, which were managed from Kyiv earlier, passed to the Federal Directorate of the Russian Federation that only led to the worsening of the situation.