Ukraine Rivers Reduced to a Trickle

9/14/2015

ELAW eBulletin
Ukraine Rivers Reduced to a Trickle

Hydropower dam at the convergence of the White and Black Cheremosh Rivers
Hydropower dam at the convergence of the White and Black Cheremosh Rivers

Remote rivers in Ukraine's Carpathian Mountains are some of the most beautiful in the world.  Sadly, these rivers are being targeted by corrupt investors who are installing small hydropower projects that are reducing rivers to a trickle, stranding fish.

The situation is reaching a crisis: More than 300 small hydropower projects are proposed for the region.

ELAW Staff Scientist Heidi Weiskel traveled to Verkhovyna in the Ivano-Frakivsk region this month to help Ukrainian partners protect the rivers.  She was accompanied by staff scientist Petro Testov and staff attorneys Marta Pankevych and Nataliia Kuts from ELAW's partner organization, Environment-People-Law.

"What we saw was devastating," says Heidi.

"Dams and pipes were siphoning most of the water out of rivers, leaving small fish ladders so poorly constructed that fish had no chance of survival.  Sediment-filled water dumped by powerhouses compromised water quality for hundreds of meters downstream.  In the wake of the new roads servicing the dams and powerhouses, we saw illegal logging, fragmented landscapes, and the disruption of natural migration for many species."

EPL Roundtable participants, September 7, 2015, Lviv, Ukraine

Heidi and her colleagues presented their findings at a roundtable in Lviv, where EPL Executive Director Olena Kravchenko announced:

"We are not opposed to the development of hydropower as a source of energy.  We are calling for a moratorium on small hydropower until the government, investors, and developers can meet strict criteria to protect the viability of this watershed."

ELAW's work with EPL is made possible by a grant from the Trust for Mutual Understanding.  We will keep you posted on our progress.

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Maggie Keenan
Communications Director
Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide