New Illegal Diversion of Waters for ‘Studena’ Dam

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After vandal damage to the Palakaria Canal, huge amounts of water destined for the “Studena” dam have been diverted illegally and have gone in an unknown direction. This became clear after engineer Atanas Rusev posted on the social network Facebook parts of his emergency plan for water supply to Bulgaria’s western city of Pernik and video footage of the identified damage.

The Palakaria Canal takes the waters from the catchment area of the Palakaria River to the Struma River, which in turn fills the “Studena” Dam. Built in the 1950s, this canal can run up to 900 liters per second, and even with the current drought, at least 100 liters per second are flowing through it. The plan of engineer Rusev, who has been exploring the karst massifs near the village of Bosnek for many years, involves restoring the Palakaria Canal and opening the swallow holes along the Struma River so that additional water can be diverted through the natural underground channels to the “Vreloto” spring.

However, an on-site inspection revealed that the 80-centimeter concrete pipe of the canal has been broken in a vandal manner, the water path has been blocked, and an illegal pipe catches the water and diverts it in another direction.

Bivol’s correspondent Dimitar Stoyanov visited the location and recorded the illegal diversion. It is not clear at this time when or who has built this installation, for whose design, construction and accounting of trapped water there is no information whatsoever.

This is the second illegal diversion of water, which, according to the designers, should provide a tributary for the “Studena” dam. Bivol documented the first one at the “Vreloto” cave. Through an illegally constructed dike, the water is directed through a pipe to the pumping station “Krapets”.

Immediately after our publication, the Ministry of Environment and Waters (MoEWs) initiated and brought to the attention of the Prosecutor’s Office a case of unregulated water use. This use is allowed only in instances of emergency, but has somehow become permanent. It is not clear for how long and how much water has been diverted there.

The new illegal installation appears to be even more scandalous as it has neither an emergency nor a permanent water use permit, and has been built obviously in violation of the law. Who uses the water illegally and how much they have profited from it remains to be seen.

In the meantime, the site Offnews calculated that the “Stomana” (Steel) plant in Pernik has used many times more water from the “Studena” dam then permitted for years. It reports and pays for 150,000 cubic meters of water, while it actually uses over 750,000 cubic meters of water. According to the publication, the damage could reach BGN 100 million and the careless drainage of the dam led to a drinking water regime in Pernik.

(Expect further details)

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