Friday, 19 July

Dirty Water Instead of Drinking Water

For the residents of the village of Kaghtsrashen in the Ararat Marz, contaminated water and the accompanying kidney disease have become commonplace.

To this day the village is supplied with water through pipes maintained since 1999 by ArmWaterSewer CJSC which are morally and physically exhausted.

The residents of Kaghtsrashen signed a contract with the Central-West Branch of ArmWaterSewer, according to which the company is obliged to deliver to residents water of drinking quality, and to provide water quality guarantee at the customers' request.

But according to the villagers, they were never given the quality guarantees that they requested from the water vendor, and they were supplied with dirty water rather than drinking water. This is because water running through the disintegrating pipes leaks from holes and cracks onto the street, where it creates pools of dirty water. Then when the water is turned off in the main pipeline, the dirty water from the streets flows back into the pipelines and becomes “drinking water”. This results in kidney disease.

The residents complained several times to the State Hygiene and Anti-Epidemic Department of the Ministry of Health. Sevoyan, an expert from the department, took several samples from the village, but the residents were not notified of the findings. Finally, a month later, they received a one-sentence reply from the head of the department, A. Vanyan, stating that “there is no evidence that sanitary standards had been violated.”

During the same period of time, at the villagers' request, Anushavan Sargsyan from the National Institute of Health took samples of the drinking water in Kaghtsrashen. Laboratory tests showed that the samples taken from the taps in residents' homes did not meet the standards, although the water from the main pipeline was clean.

Afterwards, when village resident Tsaghik Karapetyan sued the Central-West Branch of ArmWaterSewer CJSC, the Court of First Instance of the Marz found that Anushavan Sargsyan had violated procedure while taking the samples because she hadn't informed the water company of how the samples had been taken.

According to the court, the investigation showed that the water coming from the pipeline was clean, and the poor-quality water flowing from the resident's taps was their responsibility, because according to the contract they signed with the water company each of the sides is obliged “to maintain the quality of water in the water systems that it controls”. In other words, the contamination of the water is the result of the deterioration of the water pipes that belong to the residents themselves. Such statements by the court and the water company are devoid of any logic, because between July and August 2006 employees of the Artashat Branch of the water company made 24 repairs along Kaghtsrashen's water network.

It's another matter that the villagers create additional obstacles for repairing the already worn-out water systems. Specifically, illegally-built housing obstructs the movement of equipment, and some residents connect illegal pipes to the pipeline while others unwittingly hinder the work of water company employees.

The request by residents of Kaghtsrashen to have running water all day, rather than for just six hours, is unrealistic, according to the water company, since due to a shortage of water the residents of Vedi and Ararat receive water according to the same schedule.

All in all, the villagers' complaints and anger about the quality of water are justified. The leakage of contaminated water and diseases that continue to occur even after several pipeline repairs, the constant requests to pay their bills for poor-quality water have led villagers to take their complaints to a number of different agencies and institutions, and to appeal the Ararat Court's decision.

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