Sevan : recovery in progress.

Because we can regard it as saved, the Lake Sevan deserves all our attention. What the Soviets and the Armenians made successfully is possible everywhere even if the difficulties may strongly vary from one place to another.

Emerald in its casket of extinguished volcanoes with snow covered tops, the Lake Sevan lies at an elevation of about 1900 meters. Covering an area of about 1244 km▓, the Lake Sevan remains the largest alpine lake of Europe. Many says that it is also the most beautiful. It is not without reasons that the Soviet nomenklatura had their second residences there.

At the beginning of the XXth century, Armenia experienced an important agricultural and industrial development. With a fertile soil, the Ararat Valley is nevertheless rather arid; it thus should have been irrigated. Moreover, large consumer of electricity, industry has constrained the Armenians to build hydroelectric power stations. In both cases, the Lake Sevan made the expenses of the operation: the discharge of river Hrazdan which drains the lake was increased and the level of the lake started to drop. It is only in the Sixties that someone worried about the problem. At this time, the Lake Sevan had dropped by 20 meters and an insane project envisaged still to let it fall of 50 other meters. Fortunately, the Armenians became aware in time of the disaster in preparation and, in order to maintain at the same time the level of the lake and the flow of Hrazdan, they dug a tunnel which takes a part of the water of the Arpa river, which belongs to another watershed.

The Armenians were not at the end of their problems for as much. In the Nineties, whereas the demand for electricity was still in increase, a nuclear power station was stopped for reasons of safety. As the hydroelectric unit must replace the nuclear power plant, the level of the Lake Sevan passed again to the fall. But a second tunnel was put in construction to redirect towards the lake a part of the water of the Vorotan river. It has been just inaugurated in this August 2003 and should bring back the Lake Sevan to its level of origin in the course of next 25 years.

Of course with their lengths of 49 and 27 km, both tunnels built in Armenia appear small compared with the Ob channel which could save the Aral Sea. This last would be nearly two thousand kilometers long and a mountain should be crossed by a trench or a tunnel on a distance of sixty kilometers. Except for this trench, the Libyans built a channel of eighteen hundred kilometers to supply the North of their country with fossil water taken in the South. Both these examples prove the feasibility of a rescue and a complete restoration of the Aral Sea.

The richness of the Lake Sevan is not only natural but also archaeological. One can admire there the Church of Ste Astvatsatsin and that, smaller of St Karapet. Both date from IXth century, time to which they were on an island. Today, because of the fall of level of the Lake Sevan, the island became a peninsula. The site is very beautiful, especially in spring when the orchards of the monastery are in flowers. It necessitates nevertheless a restoration and a maintenance. Armenia is an accessible and hospitable country. The hotel infrastructure is middling but much of inhabitants propose meals to be consumed on the spot or in the nature and often even the lodging. The country is especially pleasant to visit at the end of the summer. After the Lake Sevan, Armenia includes a hundred smaller lakes but quite as charming. Only a score are easy to access by the road. Even if the landscape is worth displacement, it is of course necessary to avoid the area of High Karabakh where disorders are frequent.

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