In early March, Ukraine’s State Agency for Water Resources noted that the rivers and reservoirs in Ukraine are very shallow. The reason was abnormal fall and winter of 2019-2020.
The agency warned that for the first time in 120 years, the country was in a situation where hydrometeorological conditions could entail a restriction in the use of water, and low water levels could lead to the drying out of small streams.
Low water content
Over the past five years, 2015 was the most shallow year, and, as weather forecasters suggest, this might repeat in 2020.
"During the autumn-winter period 2019-2020 and the first half of spring 2020, Ukraine developed very unfavorable hydrometeorological conditions for the formation of river flows and for the accumulation of sufficient water resources," the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Center assured.
Over the past month, very low water availability was recorded in the rivers Ros, Sula, and Southern Bug. An unfavorable hydrometeorological situation also developed on the territory of the entire Dnieper basin.
"The current water content of the rivers and the inflow of water into the cascade reservoirs remain very low, one of the lowest for the period of instrumental observations," the weather forecasters noted.
The water content of the rivers of the Kyiv region in April compared with March decreased by 20-30%. The intense rainfall that took place in the region at the end of the month did not affect the situation globally.
In the Ukrainian section of the Danube, the water level also fell, and by the end of the month approached the lowest levels for April for many years.
The water content of the Desna approached its limit values - the maximum level this spring is 74 cm below the lowest value for the entire observation period.
On the rivers of the Zakarpattia region in April low water content was maintained with insignificant fluctuations in water levels.
As for the Dniester, the Prut and Siret, the melting of snow in the high mountains of the Carpathians and minor precipitation did not contribute to an increase in their water content.
Small rivers disappear or turn into swamps
According to the head of the National Ecological Council, Oleksandr Chystyakov, over the past 30 years, about 10,000 small rivers have completely disappeared or turned into swamps in Ukraine.
"For example, now two rivers such as Teteriv and Irpin are disappearing - they are becoming shallow, overgrown with algae. Even ten years ago, Irpin was a picturesque river. I remember times when tourists were kayaking there. Now this river turned into a foul-smelling brook, the banks of which were built up by wealthy people," he said in an interview.
The ecologist noted that the country now has approximately 63,000 rivers, 40,000 lakes, 1,100 reservoirs, while the World Bank put Ukraine in 125th place in terms of drinking water reserves.
"Why? Because our industry and agriculture ruthlessly pollute water bodies. The lack of drinking water is one of the biggest problems in the world. 2.5 billion people lack quality water. And 37 countries import it from abroad. If we do not protect our rivers and lakes, we will also begin to buy water abroad," Chystyakov stated.
Disappointing forecasts were also voiced by the director of the Institute of Water Problems and Land Reclamation of the National Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Mykhailo Romashchenko:
“In recent years, our river flow in the north has decreased from 10 to 20%, in the south - from 20 to 50%. If these rates continue, then by 2050 the river flow will still decrease, and in the south most of the small and medium-sized rivers it’s just dry,” he notes.
Natalya Hrudnytska, head of the Desnyansky Basin Department of Water Resources, assures that in order to preserve the rivers, "everyone needs to change himself, his consciousness in relation to water resources and take care of every drop."
"...Each of us needs to reconsider our attitude to the water. The rational use, preservation, and protection of water resources today must occur at any level - from an ordinary citizen to local authorities. There must be an understanding that water is not such an inexhaustible resource as we are used to counting," Hrudnytska said.
Reasons for low water content
An abnormally warm winter. Forecasters explain that as a result of the lack of meteorological winter there was no snow accumulation and, accordingly, no spring flood.
That is, the rivers could not be filled with water after the snow melted, because there were no snowfalls as such. A little water arrived in the mountain rivers of the Carpathians (snow fell from time to time there), but overall this did not save the situation.
Lack of rain. According to the Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Center, in March-April precipitation fell significantly less than normal, mainly 20-50%.
The rains in the west and in the center of the country at the end of April did not affect the hydrological regime of the rivers.
Ukrainian Hydrometeorological Center says that if we do not have long and heavy rains May
"... there is a high probability of significant hydrological drought in the summer period with possible negative consequences for various sectors of the economy, population, and the environment."
Rains in early May at the moment relieved the stress of drought in many areas of the northwestern part of the country.
However, according to the information and analytical portal of the agro-industrial complex, Zaporizhia (except for the eastern regions), Mykolaiv (except for the northern), Kherson, and Odesa (with the exception of some central regions where heavy showers) remained almost dry.
Dumska.net outlet clarifies that in the south of the Odesa region drought destroyed up to 70% of crops.