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Speleologist Atanas Rusev: We must be united in order to overcome the crisis when it knocks on our door

| updated on 3/25/20 9:55 AM

The town of Pernik (southwest Bulgaria) has been under a water regime since November 18, 2019. According to the latest schedule, water supply has been restricted to ten hours a day.

The water level of Studena dam which supplies the district town and the neighboring villages with drinking water dropped to the critical minimum in November last year. As a result, over 100,000 residents of Pernik were affected by the water crisis in the coldest months of the year when rainfall is rare. Thus, the competent authorities decided to restrict water supplies to this Bulgarian region to only several hours a day. Meanwhile, the government decided to build a pipeline for alternative water supplies. The new facility which is 13.5 kilometers long and costs over EUR 10 million has been already built and is currently being tested before it starts functioning.

There is a solution to the Pernik water crisis- the Bulgarian speleologist Atanas Rusev told Radio Bulgaria. He has been exploring the karst region near the village of Bosnek for years. Atanas wants to optimize the available water sources in the whole water catchment.

As soon as Atanas Rusev received a permission from the Ministry of Regional Development to work, he climbed Vitosha Mountain together with a team of colleagues. They found an illegal water catchment facility which has been diverting huge quantities of water (between 200 and 300 liters per second). Thanks to Atanas Rusev’s efforts and the efforts of other Bulgarian speleologists who joined his team as volunteers, the illegal water facility was closed and water is again flowing towards Studena dam. Mr Rusev is shocked by the unlawful acts of unscrupulous people who literally steal water from the dam lake in times of water crisis. That is why he called on the competent authorities to enhance control and impose severe penalties to perpetrators of such unlawful acts.

We have been working over the problem for over three months. We follow closely the new data about the flow of water towards Studena dam. The latest information is quite promising and encouraging. We make observations on a daily basis. Every day, the water quantities of the feeders are almost equal and huge quantities of water flow into Studena dam. We also provided our expert opinion to the authorities. As a result, the water regime in Pernik has become less restrictive and soon water supplies will be made during all daylight hours. No maintenance has been done in the past 30 years along the Palakariyski water canal. These water facilities are excellent and were designed by very talented engineers. However, they require maintenance on a regular basis. The water crisis in Pernik is due to bad management and human mistakes.

Water sources require adequate maintenance, Atanas Rusev contends and gave another example:

Struma River has dug its way under the road near the villages of Bosnek and Chuipetlovo (the highest village in Vitosha Mountain). If the authorities do not take the necessary measures there, the whole road will be destroyed and then damages will be much bigger.

These water resources require constant maintenance and wise management. However, the fact that people are still trying to reap benefit even from the severe coronavirus crisis, gives a very bad impression. Some people are trying to make money instead of staying home and respect the measures which aim to help this country overcome this bad situation faster and easier. The same thing happened in Pernik. We saw that water was stolen and diverted during the water crisis. We will not be able to deal with the calamities until we change our way of thinking. We must be united. We should not think about our own benefits and businesses, but should think how we can make things well for everyone and make sure all people stay healthy and feel alright.

English version: Kostadin Atanasov

Photos: mrrb.bg and private library

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