By Armen Zakarian
The water level of Armenia's ecologically endangered Lake Sevan has increased by 36 centimeters over the past year, according to the Armenian ministry of environmental protection.
Deputy Environment Minister Artashes Ziroyan said on Thursday that the vital lake, which has shrunk dramatically over the last several decades, has been boosted by increased supplies of water from an underground canal linking it to river Arpa.
Ziroyan said the government's decision last year to cut back on the use of Sevan's water for power generation and irrigation purposes has also played a major role. He said 30 million cubic meters of Sevan water has been used in the first seven months of this year, down from 113 million cubic meters used during the same period in 2001.
The latest government figures contradict some Armenian press reports which said that the level of Sevan is in fact continuing to fall.
But according to Ziroyan, the lake will grow further after the construction of another tunnel pumping water into Sevan from the nearby mountains. A mid-term government program on Sevan envisages to raise its level by 10 to 15 centimeters every year.