The turn to the worse has come about because of the self-proclaimed government of the peninsula’s reluctance to enter into a contractual relationship with the Ukrainian government in general and the North Crimean Canal directorate in particular. In addition, the Crimeans have not paid the debt for the water received in 2013. “The North Crimean Canal is working in the operating mode which is adjusted according to the orders coming from water users of Kherson region... An unauthorized diversion of water flow from the North Crimean canal in the amount of 5.9 cubic meters per second is being carried out in Crimea at the barrier No. 3. However, they have still not entered into a contractual relationship to ensure the water needs of Crimea, including drinking water supply and cropland irrigation, as well as provide for the repayment of the Crimean water users’ debt to the North Crimean Canal directorate for 2013, amounting to 1.7 million hryvnias,” the State Agency of Water Resources of Ukraine reported.
Chairman of the Kherson Oblast State Administration Yurii Odarchenko raised this issue before in an interview with Den. However, it has stayed unsolved for almost a month already. Meanwhile, the Crimeans hear frequent promises that water supply will be secured and alternative sources will be found, supposedly allowing the peninsula to make do without any Dnipro water. “Ukraine is preparing to supply water to Crimea,” deputy of the Crimean ‘parliament’ Edip Gofarov was quoted as saying by the Crimean News Agency. It also noted the self-proclaimed head of the ‘Republic of Crimea’s State Council’ Volodymyr Konstantynov’s instruction to solve the problem of water supply as soon as possible.
However, the head of the North Crimean Canal directorate Oleksandr Romanenko holds a somewhat different view. In his comment for The Day, he said that “they will get no water without a contract with the Ukrainian authorities. Return of equipment, which is owned by our directorate but is now kept on the peninsula, is a prerequisite for our entering into contractual relations with Crimea. It includes excavators, bulldozers, buses and more. Another strict condition is paying down the last year’s debt. I know that this issue was considered at the Council of Ministers of Crimea, but we do not know what decision was taken by them. They will have to contact the ministries of finance and economy then, to learn calculations and prices at which they will be able to get water. I think they will be far higher than they were. For example, water supply was paid for by grants from the budget of Ukraine previously, but now, Crimea has to pay all the costs on its own.”
According to Romanenko, Crimea is still getting some water, as the construction of the channel does not allow for a complete stoppage of the flow. “Crimea illegally receives about six cubic meters of water per second. It is definitely too little for the normal functioning of the irrigation system and providing drinking water to the peninsula. Normal volume is 50 cubic meters per second,” Romanenko noted. “We have begun constructing a gauge site that will calculate the amount of water that will be sent to Crimea. We will be able to keep accurate records then, because we do not get reports on the state of the system and the volumes received from Crimea now. In addition to being a violation of a number of work rules, it could also lead to a delayed response to emergencies. As for alternative sources of water, my take on expert opinions and the published data is that drilling of wells, water imports and other ways to secure water supply are problematic and costly for Crimea. They need the Dnipro water at the moment.”