What were the environmental consequences of blowing up the dam on the North Crimean Canal?

March 1, 2023

Stolen water, what were the environmental consequences of blowing up the dam on the North Crimean Canal, and why is it legal to stop the supply of water to the temporarily occupied Crimea. Read about it in the material of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center.

We will remind that in February 2022, the Russian military seized the Kakhovka HES in the Kherson region, destroyed the dam on the North Crimean Canal and released water to Crimea, which has been occupied since 2014. The State Inspectorate of Ukraine stated that now Russia steals Ukrainian water worth 32 million hryvnias every day. It is noted that all buildings are occupied. Also, the occupiers do not allow Ukrainian specialists into the facility.

Liudmyla Korotkykh, manager of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center, commented on the legal aspect of the termination of water supply to the temporarily occupied Crimea.

“Any decision regarding the functioning of the North Crimean Canal is exclusively an internal matter of Ukraine. The UN Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, in General Comment No. 15, made clear that water and water resources should be available to all without discrimination under state jurisdiction. That is, the state that effectively controls this territory and extends its jurisdiction over it has an obligation to provide the population with drinking water. International humanitarian law has the same position. Despite the fact that the Russians filed a claim against Ukraine for violating the UN Convention on the Protection and Use of Transboundary Watercourses and International Lakes, no lawsuit was filed by Russia in international judicial institutions”,- Liudmila said.

Korotkykh emphasized that the Russians understood in advance that it would not be possible to force Ukraine to restore water supply through the North Crimean Canal through international legal mechanisms.

She also noted that one of the reasons for the full-scale invasion in 2022 was the need to restore the water supply through the canal, as there have been significant water supply problems on the peninsula in recent years.

Yevhen Khlobystov, a member of the Expert Council of the Crimean Tatar Resource Center for Environmental Protection and Sustainable Development of Crimea, commented on the ecological consequences of the detonation of the dam and assessed the quality of water entering Crimea.

“The water that reaches Crimea through the North Crimean Canal is very cloudy. This is due to the neglected condition of the channel itself. The occupiers cannot use this water to irrigate the land or for domestic purposes. It needs serious finishing, but there are no technical possibilities for this in Crimea. The occupiers claim that this water is used by the farmers of the Crimean steppe, but in reality we do not see an increase in yield indicators”,- the expert noted.

Khlobystov added that part of the water is also lost due to the heat in the summer.

The expert emphasized that because of such actions of the occupiers in the Kherson region, a swampy area is formed and that in fact an artificial change of the ecosystem has taken place.

Khlobystov noted that after the deoccupation Ukraine will face the issue of improving the water supply system of Crimea and possibly building a new water pipeline.

We will remind that the Crimean Tatar Resource Center systematically informs the international community about the water problem in Crimea. In particular, CTRC experts prepared and sent to the UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights and the Environment, Dr. David Boyd, a report on the topic Impact of the irrational policy of the occupation authorities of the Russian Federation on the water balance of Crimea.

In addition, the Crimean Tatar Resource Center and the Peace and Co Charitable Foundation presented an exclusive documentary film Crimea. Dehydration, which raises one of the most relevant topics of our time: water shortage on the peninsula, and highlights the irrational approach of the Russian authorities to the use of water resources.