The Akhurian Reservoir, also known as Arpaçay Baraj Gölü in Turkish and Ախուրյանի ջրամբար in Armenian, is a significant hydrological feature located on the Akhurian River, marking the boundary between Armenia and Turkey. This reservoir stands out as one of the prominent water storage facilities in the Caucasus region, with its expansive surface area of 54 km² and a considerable volume capacity of 525 million cubic meters.
Foundation and Development
On April 25, 1963, a landmark agreement was signed between Turkey and the then Soviet Union, of which Armenia was a part, laying the groundwork for constructing a dam on the Akhurian River and regulating four rivers feeding into the reservoir. The construction phase spanned five years, from 1975 to 1980, culminating in the reservoir’s operational debut in 1980.
The Akhurian Reservoir plays a vital role in supporting agriculture within the region. Armenia facilitates irrigation across three provinces: Aragatsotn, Armavir, and Shirak. Across the border in Turkey, it serves a substantial 70,000-hectare agricultural area within the provinces of Kars and Ardahan. This cross-border utility underscores the reservoir’s significance in bolstering agricultural productivity and supporting the livelihoods of local communities.
Environmental Concerns and Water Quality
Despite its agricultural benefits, the Akhurian Reservoir has its challenges. Levon Martirosyan, the head of the environmental organization Geofon, has raised concerns regarding the water quality in the reservoir. According to studies conducted by Geofon, the reservoir’s waters are heavily contaminated with heavy metals and toxic substances. This pollution poses a significant threat to the environment and the health and safety of the communities relying on the reservoir for irrigation and other needs.
What Did We Learn Today?
The Akhurian Reservoir is a crucial transboundary water resource, fostering agricultural development and supporting communities in Armenia and Turkey. While it offers substantial benefits in water storage and agricultural irrigation, addressing the environmental challenges and ensuring the water quality is paramount to safeguard the health of the ecosystem and the communities dependent on this vital water resource.