By Shakeh Avoyan
Supplies of drinking water to many parts of Yerevan have been have been limited or cut off altogether after a major reservoir was contaminated as a result of Armenia’s worst flooding in years.
The river Hrazdan which runs through the city has swollen dramatically since a surge in temperatures set off a massive thaw of snow on mountains across the country late last week.
Officials said on Monday the floodwaters overflew the nearby reservoir which delivers drinking water to the southern Shengavit district. The Yerevan water company was quick to suspend the supplies, launching a clean-up operation.
According to its spokesman, Murad Sargsian, the network operator has also taken “preventive measures” in other districts, adding chlorine to their water to stave off a disease epidemic. Some of them have had no running water since Sunday.
“If we supply water that will mean that its quality meets the required standards,” Sargsian told RFE/RL. “We may return to the normal supplies regime as early as tomorrow.”
But some Shengavit residents said that they have been warned by sanitary services not to drink the water even after boiling it. The health scare appeared to be quickly spreading around Yerevan as many recalled last November’s contamination of drinking water supplied to the city’s northern Arabkir district. The authorities failed to prevent a serious outbreak of dysentery, with about two hundred people hospitalized at the time.
The head of the city’s main infections hospital, Ara Asoyan, said no one has been treated for dysentery or another intestinal infection there in recent days.
The flooding has also affected other regions of Armenia, notably the mountainous Aragatsotn province. Several villages there were completely cut off from the rest of the country on Friday. There have been no reports of casualties and the extent of damage inflicted on the local agriculture is not yet known.
The calamity’s impact on Yerevan has largely been confined to a deep gorge through which the river Hrazdan flows. Some of the numerous riverside restaurants that have sprung up there in recent years were nearly washed away by the floodwaters. The contaminated reservoir is also located in the picturesque area.