Measures dedicated to the "International Water Day”
Country Water Partnership Armenia and commercial organization “SPRING” PR Group initiated social and environmental project on "Let us be caring, Armenia - International Water Day 2013", and implemented a series of measures within its framework.
The project measures were mainly aimed at raising public awareness and identifying the problems in the water co-operation inside the country.
On March 21st in the morning the NGO president Arevik Hovsepyan and “SPRING” PR Company’s international projects director Tatevik Simonyan were the guests of the program "Good Morning Armenians" of the "Armenia TV channel" and presented the project.
They represented to the attention of TV viewers the slogan of the "World Water Day", which announced the year as "International Year of Water Cooperation," and noted that for Armenia cooperation with neighboring countries is actual not only at the international level, but also at the national level, i.e. cooperation between different water users and government agencies. They attached also special importance to the Armenian population’s attitude towards water and called to solicitously treat water, considering also the fact that water resources are more vulnerable to climate change.
After, on 21st of March at 12:00 a press conference-discussion was held at the press club "Slack" (Arrow). The speakers of the press conference were CWP NGO president Arevik Hovsepyan and “SPRING” PR Company’s international projects director Tatevik Simonyan, International general director of MVV-Decon Lori, Shirak, Nor Akunq Water Supply companies’ contract management project Ashot Hovsepyan, contract management project coordinator of the same companies Hovhannes Harutyunyan.
The speakers represented their views on the problems existing in the management of water resources and urban water in Armenia. They noted that they were going to organize a national conference on "Integrated Urban Water Management” this year, the purpose of which is to identify the urban water problems in Armenia and find out ways for introducing the principles of integrated urban water management in the country. The social and environmental project on "Let us be caring, Armenia - International Water Day 2013" ended on March 25, with the national conference on "Integrated Urban Water Management” held at Business Center "Yerevan Plaza". The aim of the conference was identifying the problems existing in the field of providing access for population to infrastructure and water and sanitation services in wastewater, rain water and storm water management and surface water pollution, control of waterborne diseases and epidemics, reduction of problems depending on water hazards, including floods, droughts and landslides, and identifying the ways to introduce the principles of integrated urban water management in the country. The conference was attended by representatives of the State Water Committee of Water System of the RA Ministry for territorial governance, Rescue Service of the RA Ministry of Emergency Situations, international organizations implementing water supply and wastewater services in Armenia, local governmental bodies, consulting companies, NGOs and the media. The Conference speakers addressed mainly the problems in urban water management (water supply, sanitation, waste water treatment, irrigation, and rain water), which are actual and require both political and legislative and structural solutions. As an authority in the field of urban water management, the State Water Committee’s experts represented the post-Soviet development of the field, the problems still existing and the vision, which shall be the result of the sector development. The process and problems of the 3 major water and sewerage companies of Armenia were presented. The process of urban wastewater treatment problems and modern attitudes to the process were also introduced to the Conference participants. The representative of the Ministry of Emergency Situations presented the problems related to storm water and mudflow management. The spokesman said that currently a flood management concept paper is developed, which is being discussed by the stakeholder ministries. Three technical papers developed by the Global Water Partnership’s Technical Council were introduced to the Conference participants. The papers were on the integrated urban water management and use of wastewater and storm water as a valuable resource. Summarizing the Conference presentations and discussions, the participants highlighted the following problems: In the primary stage of the reforms in the urban water sector management, priority was initially given to providing the population with drinking water, while sewerage and wastewater treatment processes were left to the next stages. The wastewater is not considered as a water resource and the Government has not developed a clear policy and strategy for wastewater treatment and reuse of the treated water as an additional water resource. There are not incentive mechanisms for the entities treating wastewater. The standards established for wastewater treatment are quite strict and huge investments are required for achieving them that the country and the entrepreneurs do not possess. As a result, wastewater is discharged into the surface water and groundwater basins, as well as land areas without treatment. Flood management issues are within the powers of different bodies, such as Ministries of Emergency Situations and Agriculture and local self-governance authorities, which prevent full management and implementation. Based on these problems, the Conference participants recorded: There is a need to develop a clear policy and a new strategy for domestic wastewater treatment and reuse of the treated water, for introducing modern methods for wastewater treatment in Armenia. New wastewater treatment standards are to be developed based on purposeful reuse after treatment. For industrial and domestic wastewater treatment phase by phase treatment strategy is to be developed that will allow entities reaching the final wastewater treatment outcome in adequate time periods. For the newly developed flood management concept paper, public hearings are to be organized and the suggestions of civil society on the draft concept paper are to be represented. Appropriate legislative and regulatory changes are to be made in the existing laws and regulations.