The government plans to build an emergency pipeline to supply Pernik with water from Belmeken

Officials are proud of the idea, but there is nothing yet on paper, no official requests or documentation – including financial forecast - have been drafted

Belmeken

The government will build an emergency pipeline to reroute water from Belmeken reservoir to Pernik. The plan was developed over the weekend when the Cabinet held a meeting and adopted this solution. On Monday Environment Minister Emil Dimitrov and his colleague Regional Development Minister Petya Avramova presented the idea to the Sofia Municipal Council, which must approve the plan as well, as this way the rerouted water will have to use Sofia’s water infrastructure to get to Pernik.

During the hearing, which lasted four hours, the two ministers, along with Economy Minister Emil Karanikolov and representatives from the water supply company in Pernik failed to present anything on paper, however. The council members received only oral accounts as to what the plan entails. In other words, the askers did not make an official request or provide documentation regarding the plan. There are no clear parameters in terms of costs, risks or supply. The government has only said the total cost will not exceed 25 million leva and the public contract will be awarded to the state company Montazhi. The funding will be national - from the Economy Ministry.

According to the mayor of Pernik, Stanislav Vladimirov, the Studena reservoir – the main water supply for Pernik and the region – will reach its dead storage in ten to 14 days. Once it reaches this point, the water in Pernik and the region will begin to extract water from the main outlet, the mayor said. The water, which could be used in this case is very little. At the same time, the purification system will be unable to work at full capacity. In his words the maximum supply they could gather in this case would be a third from the volume Pernik needs to maintain the water restrictions. Vladimirov pled that the only way to ensure Pernik will have some water in two weeks’ time when the levels will fall to the dead storage, will be to redirect water from Belmeken through Sofia.

Pernik is under water restrictions since November 18. About a month later the local government declared a state of emergency. The now-former Minister of Environment Neno Dimov was arrested and facing charges of mismanagement, which prosecutors allege led to the unprecedented crisis. Prosecutors found the minister had approved increasing volumes of water from the Studena reservoir to the industrial park nearby - which mostly produces steel - even though the water levels were continuously falling throughout the year. Dimov resigned after his arrest and Emil Dimitrov was nominated – and approved – for the post. Dimitrov has been criticized for heavy lobbying in Parliament on behalf of notorious and often shady large-scale business-owners.

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