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article imageCrimea facing severe water shortage as access to water denied

By Karen Graham     Apr 25, 2014 in Politics
Russian Agriculture Minister Nikolai Fyodorov said on Thursday a water shortage in Crimea is becoming acute, and will devastate the region's agriculture, unless access to water via the North Crimea Canal is restored.
In an unfolding story that came to light on Thursday, it was learned the North Crimea Canal, bringing water 400 Kilometers from the Dnieper River in southern Ukraine to Crimea has been almost totally cut off. The water from this canal supplies nearly 80 percent of the peninsula's water supply.
Map showing Crimea and the North Crimea Canal  running from southern Ukraine and down into Crimea. I...
Map showing Crimea and the North Crimea Canal, running from southern Ukraine and down into Crimea. It is the red line running across the northeastern part of the country.
Earlier in April, Ukraine cut the flow of water in the canal from its usual 90 cubic meters per second to just 7 cubic meters per second, the lowest possible flow feasible without cutting it off completely. Kiev justifies this move because of Crimea's outstanding water debt.
Even though Russian authorities have offered to make payments on the outstanding debt owed Ukraine, Kiev refuses to negotiate a deal. This is more than likely due to Russia's annexation of Crimea in March. The ongoing crisis over this event is fueling the ill-feeling about the water supply.
Crimea's harvest of grapes, rice, maize and soy, covering 296,000 acres, are in danger of being lost. Fyodorov said the loses would amount to 5 billion roubles ($140,000 million) if the water loss continues. He went on to say it would take years to solve Crimea's water supply problems, but there are several options being studied, including desalination plants on the Black Sea, digging wells and piping water across the Kerch Strait from the Kuban region in southern Russia,
Grape vines in Crimea.
June 16  2003
Grape vines in Crimea. June 16, 2003
The Crimean Economic Development and Trade Ministry has said that in 2012, agriculture accounted for $4.3 billion, or about 10 percent of the economy. Loses of $140 million would wipe-out about 30 percent of the areas agriculture sector. Of course, there was no mention of drinking water.
Observers point out the precarious position Russia has put Crimea in. Looking at a map of the region, it is easy to see that Crimea is attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land called the Perokop Isthmus, the peninsula's lifeline.
Crimea is dependent on the mainland not only for over 80 percent of its water, but almost 90 percent of its electricity and at least 70 percent of its food. With the summer season coming, and along with it the expected dry season, water, electricity and food supplies will become all that more important for Crimea and for Russia.
More about crimea, Water crisis, Ukraine, Agriculture, North Crimea Canal
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