Facts finding missions - Georgia and Armenia

Within the framework of the EPIRB project, the group of the key experts of the Project conducted the facts finding missions to the beneficiary countries.  
First mission was conducted in Georgia and then to Armenia. Objective of the mission was to explore existing monitoring infrastructure and technical capability of a local staff for caring out regular environmental monitoring at, proposed by the project beneficiary institutions of Georgia and Armenia, pilot basin areas: Chorokhi-Adjaristskali basin of the Adjara region, Georgia and Akurian Basin District area of Shirak region, Armenia. More specific objective of the mission was to assess ability and methodology for collecting, analyzing and processing physico-chemical, hydro-morphological, hydro-biological and groundwater monitoring in the proposed pilot region; number and location of existing monitoring points; accessibility of water quality and quantity data, etc.
Mission met with the Black Sea Monitoring Division (BSMD) of the NEA. BSMD carries out regular physical-chemical monitoring of coastal and surface waters once a month (five surface monitoring points, including two on the pilot basins – Chorokhi and Adjaristskali). In addition the BSMD observes biological conditions of coastal waters once in a quarter (benthos, ichthyo-fauna, phytoplankton, zoo-plankton, etc.) and is planning to start hydro-biological sampling of surface waters too. In was found out that:

  • BSMD’s pollution monitoring laboratory is furnished with most modern equipment and qualified staff;
  • During the water sampling BSMD staff measures the water discharges - themselves, using -the float gauging method;
  • Sampling of groundwater aquifers is not practiced

Mission visited the Hydro-meteorology Service of Adjara Authonomous Republic, which operates 2 hydrological stations located in the pilot basin: Chorokhi-Mirveti and Adjaristkali-Keda. OIt was found out that the service carries out regular observation of water levels and water temperatures on all gauging stations; Water discharge is measured on Chorokhi-Merviti station only. The Service does not have any special software; the data is transmitted to Tbilisi by electronic mail, or SMS
The mission visited Chorokhi-Merviti gauging station. They discovered that the equipment is outdated, the current meter is not calibrated regularly.
The Project experts along with representative of the MOE and the NEA visited the Environmental Pollution Monitoring Department of the NEA ; Ltd Batumi Water, Mejinistskali groundwater abstraction; as potential source of groundwater data for the pilot area It was found out that the Service is responsible for water intake from groundwater wells and supply city of Batumi by drinking water (about 15% out of total supply for the city);Infrastructure and groundwater wells (boreholes) are in a good shape; currently 22 wells are fully operational but 8 of them are in reserve. The service owns a modern water supply monitoring technology and automated equipment. They conduct hourly monitoring of water levels in reservoirs, as well as laboratory testing of quality of water (in central laboratory of the Batumi Water Ltd). The Company has abandoned wells (without pumps) which can be used for monitoring. Well field is turned on twice per day. During the high season wells are turned on more often.
Meeting was held with the representatives of the Water Resources Protection Division of the MoE Georgia and met the Directorate for Environment and Natural Resources of Adjara AR. Management staff of the Directorate expressed their readiness to cooperate with the project.
The mission met with the Head of the Water Protection Division and the Project FP Ms Marina Makarova to discuss findings of the field visit at Chorokhi-Adjaristkali basin, as well as possibility of obtaining water use/water balance data for the pilot area;
Plans of construction HHPs in Adjaristskali and Chorokhi basins led by the Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources (MENR) were also discussed. MoE is involved in EIA approval process for the mentioned projects and thus it is possible to get access to the existing data and reports.

Straight after Adjara, the group of the EPIRB Experts visited Armenia. The first meeting was held with the representatives of the Akhurian Water Basin Management Organisation – BMO. The Akhurian BMO is part of the WRMA and is responsible for management of water resources in one of the 6 Water Basin Management Areas of Armenia. The Akhurian Basin Area combines two hydrological basins – Akhurian and Metsamor. The experts found out that the Basin District is well covered by network of hydrological and surface water quality monitoring observation points. There are 16 physical-chemical sampling points and 11 hydrological posts (6 on the Akhurian River, 2 on reservoirs, 3 on streams), however most of the equipment is outdated. Groundwater monitoring is not practiced at Akhurian sub-basin due to lack of financial means.

The mission travelled to Metsamor sub-basin, downstream to Armavir, to check the groundwater observation wells. They found there 4 operational groundwater monitoring wells in relatively satisfactory conditions.

The meeting in the Hydro-geology Center was focused on assessment of the technical capacity of the monitoring network, existing field observation equipment, available funds, their role in water permitting procedures and water management in Armenia in general, etc.
The mission team met with the head of WRMA to discuss the planned project activities in the pilot area and WRMA’s possible role for development and consequent use of the RBMP. The meeting also discussed data collection and flow procedures, as well as water use/regulation issues through the existing permitting system, as well as water allocation agreement and controlling mechanism with Turkey on the Akhurian reservoir.
The mission visited the State Hydro-meteorological Service to discuss and obtain the detailed information on hydrological monitoring network in Armenia and the pilot basin area in particular.
Purpose of the visit at EIMC was to check technical capacity of the central pollution monitoring laboratory and its staff. The EIMC laboratory is one of the possibilities for testing groundwater samples for the chemical quality and composition. As it was found, their technical capacity is very much online with the required standards in terms of equipment, QA/QC and qualified and trained staff.  
It was found however that there is significant lack of monitoring capacity in terms of number and frequency of observation points, both for chemical and hydro-morphological monitoring in Georgia.  Moreover, hydro-biological and groundwater monitoring are not practiced at all. This will make difficult to achieve overall objective of the project. The only possible alternative would be using archive data and conduct special field surveys to fill the data gaps.
Mission concluded that the situation with the hydrological, groundwater and water quality monitoring is much better in Armenia, however hydro-biological monitoring is not practiced here as well and hydrological equipment in the pilot area is outdated.  

It would be therefore beneficial to obtain for the duration of the project (rent, purchase, etc.) some field equipment (e.g. automatic groundwater level and temperature meters, ADCP for the water discharge and river morphological parameters measurements) and use it for training of local experts and also for data collection. An introductory workshop for local experts from all beneficiary countries on water monitoring according to the WFD requirements would also make a lot of sense.