Citizens of Pernik march to Sofia to protest water crisis

Protesters from Pernik in Sofia

Citizens of Pernik took to the Council of Ministers building in Sofia Saturday to protest the water crisis in their city and surrounding region.

Pernik is under water restrictions since November 18 but few households get access to water under the restrictions’ schedule. The water level of Pernik’s main water supply, the Studena reservoir will reach its dead storage in about ten days, according to estimates.

Prosecutors charged the former Minister of Environment Neno Dimov for mismanagement which led to the crisis. According to prosecutors Dimov approved high volumes of water to be redirected to the industrial park near Pernik, which mostly manufactures steel. The problem was that the water levels in the main Pernik water supply, the Studena reservoir were falling. Had the minister decreased the volumes for the industry park, the prosecutors claim, there would be enough water for household needs to get through the season.

The protesters demanded the resignations of PM Boyko Borissov and Regional Development Minister Petya Avramova.

One of the organizers of the protest Kameliya Radeva – who is a member of the initiative "Save Pernik" - told BGNES that Dimov’s arrest was prompted by the growing public discontent and that it was designed to have a PR effect.

"The circle of responsible persons does not end with [Dimov] and we will continue to demand Regional Development Minister Petya Avramova’s resignation," Radeva said.

Last week the government announced a plan to resolve the crisis. Water would be rrouted from the Beli Iskar reservoir through Sofia’s pipes to reach Pernik. In order do so a 14-kilometer pipeline and a pump station would have to be constructed.

Economi Minister Emil Karanikolova claims the development will take about 40 days but water supply experts told Mediapool such an infrastructure needs at leat two months to finish.

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