Selection criteria for pilot basins were developed during the Inception period of the project and distributed to the beneficiaries to facilitate the selection of pilot sub-basins.
Discussions were then held with the beneficiaries and the following pilot river basins were selected:
Armenia: the Akhurian Basin District, combining hydrological basins of the Akhurian and Metsamor rivers, was selected as the pilot area by the Armenian Ministry of Nature Protection. This Basin is of vital importance to the country, as it is trans-boundary with neighbouring Turkey and its surface waters are heavily modified and regulated by number of water reservoirs on both sides, for power generation, irrigation and industrial activities. Groundwater resources in the basin are a major source of drinking water for the Shirak region and the cities of Gyumri and Armavir. Specific issues that the RBMP will have to focus on may include degradation of surface water quality in the basin, hydro-morphological flow balance, control of withdrawal and distribution of groundwater resources, etc. The Basin District is managed by the Basin Management Authority that has trained staff and well established infrastructure for surface and groundwater monitoring.
Azerbaijan: The right tributaries of the Central Kura, starting from the Georgian border before the Mingechavir reservoir, including the four major watersheds of the Agstafachay, Tovuzchay, Shamkirchay and Ganjachay rivers, as well as smaller streams flowing to Kura, were selected as the pilot area for Azerbaijan by the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. These small rivers, along with extensive groundwater wells and aquifers, form major freshwater sources for irrigation use and drinking water supply in the western part of Azerbaijan. In addition, this region is considered as very important, as it has two watersheds - Agstafachay and Tovuzchay are transboundary with Armenia. Specific water issues that RBMP will have to focus on may include water
scarcity/water distribution patterns, minimum ecological flow and associated water quality problems, etc. There is no basin organization solely responsible for the management of water resources on a district level. However, the Guanja regional branch of the National Hydrometeorology Department (MoE Azerbaijan), with a well covered (although outdated) monitoring network, and pollution monitoring laboratory in Gazakh, may serve as a supplementary institution for the duration of the project.
Belarus/Ukraine: the Upper Dnieper Basin. This covers the area north of Kiev and combines the major tributaries of the Dnieper River, starting upstream of the Kiev Reservoir (to be clarified). This sub-basin was selected as the project pilot area by appropriate leading beneficiary institutions in Ukraine and Belarus. This selection was made in terms of ensuring the protection of freshwater resources in the upper Dnieper basin that are vitally important for power generation, drinking water supply, irrigation and industry at large in the trans-boundary area between the two countries. The importance of the river is particularly high downstream of the Kiev reservoir, which includes the city of Kiev with a population of about 5 million.
Georgia: the Chorokhi-Adjaristskali basin district was selected as the project pilot area forGeorgia by the Ministry of Environment Protection. The area includes the Georgian part of theChorokhi river, its major tributary in Georgia – the Adjaristkhali sub-basin and smallerwatersheds (Chakvistkali and Kintrishi) directly flowing to the Black Sea, but related to the basindistrict by groundwater aquifers. Although there are no basin management districts identifiedand managed in Georgia so far, it is proposed that the new Water Code, which is being draftedfor the moment, will consider these watersheds as one basin district. The pilot was selected after taking into consideration strong support from the regional environmental authority (the Directorate for Environment and Natural Resources of the Adjara Autonomous Republic) and a rare opportunity in Georgia for consequent, or post-project, ‘ownership’ of the developed RBMP, as well as applying a selected programme of measures to the whole basin as one district. Specific water management issues that RBMP will have to focus on in the basin may include the hydromorphological balance between surface water and groundwater, building a cascade of HPPs, and thus altering the natural flow of the rivers, degradation of surface water quality due to industrial/agricultural activities, as well as poorly maintained wastewater infrastructure, etc.
Moldova/Ukraine: the Prut basin was selected as the project pilot area between Moldova and Ukraine. This would support fulfilment of their obligations regarding the River Basin Management Planning for one the ICPDR. In addition of this, the project is tasked with providing assistance to the beneficiary countries in implementing the countries’ obligations under the Danube Protection Convention. Therefore selecting the Prut as a trans-boundary pilot area, that also includes Romania as the EU member country, would be another good reason for further approximation towards a EU WFD-compliant methodology. Specific water issues that the RBMP will have to focus on include ecological water flow, hydro-morphological balance between the surface waters and groundwater aquifers, floods prevention measures, pressure on ecosystem diversity and protected areas due to intensive agriculture activities, etc. Basin Management Authorities exist in both the Ukrainian and Moldovan parts of the pilot area, with wellestablished monitoring infrastructure that should provide significant assistance for data collection and overall planning.