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Since the mid-1980s, there has been a decrease in the total water withdrawal, mainly due to a decrease in agricultural and industrial water withdrawal. In fact, the reduction in water use has been accompanied by a remarkable improvement in surface water quality. In 2006, the total water withdrawal for agricultural, municipal and industrial purposes was 2 827 million m3, of which about 66 percent for agricultural purposes, 30 percent for municipal use and 4 percent for industrial purposes (Table 4 and Figure 1). Agricultural water withdrawal mainly refers to irrigation of crops. Works for the watering of pastures began in 1956, including providing water for cattle in the pasturing period. Sources of pasture watering are springs, mountain melted snow, and non-discharge water bodies (UNDP 2005). Surface water withdrawals represent 78 percent of the total water withdrawals (Figure 2).
In most of Armenia’s territory, it is possible to use groundwater for drinking needs without any additional treatment. Indeed, about 95 percent of the water used for drinking purposes comes from groundwater sources (MNP, 2003). Both surface water and underground springs are used for industrial water supply. Industrial water supply is provided by independently operating water supply systems as well as from the city drinking water supply network. For the past 10–15 years, the water requirements of industrial enterprises have significantly decreased due to the reduction of the activity of many enterprises. It should be mentioned that 40 percent of the industrial enterprises using water are located in Yerevan. The largest water-using industrial enterprise is the Armenian Nuclear Power Plant which uses about 35 million m3/year (UNDP, 2005). There are 35 high and middle capacity hydropower plants in Armenia, nine of which are the plants at the Vorotan and Hrazdan hydropower cascades. As a result of insufficient regulation of volumes, hydropower production is also subject to seasonal variations (MNP, 2005).
While the industrial sector is not considered a major water user, an important problem for this sector is the implementation of industrial wastewater removal and treatment. Most industrial facilities were never equipped individually because they had been connected to the public sewer network during the Soviet Era, and thus were able to access municipal wastewater treatment. Attention should therefore be paid to those industries that have resumed production and from which the wastewater generated is channelled to the municipal wastewater treatment system, where only the mechanical treatment step is currently being operated. Also, the industries that are not connected to a municipal sewerage system discharge their mostly untreated wastewater directly into a stream or river. In general, old industries that resume production are the most polluting.
The total quantity of wastewater produced in 2006 amounted to 363 million m3, of which 89 million m3 was treated.