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Bulgaria and Turkey continue negotiations at intergovernmental level on the declared in 2007 intention of Turkey to use water from the Bulgarian Rezovska river for water supply of Istanbul. In May this year, Bulgarian and Turkish hydrologists have met to discuss methods for monitoring river flow – this emerged from information of the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs sent on a request from Bivol under the Access to Public Information Act.

The Ministry of Environment and Waters does not answer directly the same question, but explains that on March 20, 2013 (under the rule of the caretaker government) a joint declaration has been signed between the Minister of Environment and Waters of Bulgaria and the Minister of Forestry and Water Resources of Turkey on cooperation in the field of water resources that regulates a “sustainable management of water resources” and protection of “areas of trans-border river basins.”

The Ministry reports four meetings at expert level to select a hydrometric station on Rezovksa river, which, however, did not lead to a decision where to install it.

Until a joint monitoring of water levels of Rezovksa river is established and an assessment of the need for waters of the river Rezovska is concluded, a discussion on water quantity and water volumes to be taken from the river is not possible, the Environment Ministry assuages. However, the possibility to divert waters from Rezovska to supply water to Istanbul is not directly rejected.

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Environmentalists – A Dam on Rezovska River Would Be a Disaster!

Bivol consulted environmentalists, experts in the field, who explicitly highlighted an apocalyptic picture in case of a decision to use Strandzha rivers for water supply of the multi-million Turkish city.

Our country is one of the poorest countries in Europe when it comes to water resources, while Strandzha mountain is dry. Diverting water will make it even drier. Notwithstanding the relatively high average annual rainfall in the mountains, the precipitations are very unevenly distributed, with an intense autumn-winter maximum and summer minimum. Summer droughts are also frequent, when the rivers Veleka and Rezvaya almost dry out in their middle courses, and can be literally hopped over by any reasonably athletic person. Taking away 10 or more cubic meters of water in second from the two rivers during this period will lead to negative changes in the river regime and their complete drying in their middle courses. They currently may not be fully used, but the only fertile lands in Strandzha will be irreversibly destroyed as well.

The destruction of the river valleys of Veleka and Rezvaya, which will essentially follow the implementation of these “crazy projects,” will be the beginning of the end of the Strandza Natural Park, whose environmental value has been already damaged by unreasonable construction on the Black Sea coast of the Park and construction works emerging along the Veleka river. Valuable river ecosystems and a number of rare and endangered species of flora and fauna, including the otter, which is a symbol of the Berne Convention for the Protection of the European Fauna and Flora, will also disappear.

This threat has been also assessed by the authors of the Management Plan for Strandza (which has not been adopted yet because of lobbying interests – editor’s note) and, therefore, a full and conclusive intergovernmental agreement between the Republic of Bulgaria and the Republic of Turkey to preserve the natural character of rivers Veleka and Rezovska, is among the most important projects, as the plan explicitly states. This means a ban on any hydraulic construction there.

It is also not clear how this will affect a lasting climate drought change, when water resources start to run short in Bulgaria, all while Bulgaria and Turkey have a long-term agreement to supply water to several millions of people in Istanbul and Eastern Thrace.

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