The impact of hydropower plants on the ecosystems of rivers and the loss of ecosystemic services were discussed in a seminar in Chisinau that brought together Moldovan and Ukrainian experts. Members of environmental NGOs also raised the facilitation of implementation of European requirements to development of hydropower sector in states of Eastern Europe Partnership.
The seminar was staged as part of the project “Ecological to hydropower assessment: supporting implementation of European legislation in developing hydropower sector in Eastern Partnership states”. The project is financially supported by the European Union within the Eastern Partnership Program of the Civil Society Forum in cooperation with the project “Creating a system of innovative transboundary monitoring of the transformations of the Black Sea river ecosystems under the impact of hydropower development and climate change” – HydroEcoNex within the framework of the Joint Operational Program Black Sea Basin 2014-2020 that is funded by the EU through the European Neighborhood Instrument.
In a news confrenence at IPN held after the seminar, executive director of the Eco-TIRAS International Environmental Association of River Keepers Ilya Trombitsky said the Moldovan-Ukrainian seminar discussed these problems in a move to contribute to improving the situation in the two countries. Special attention was devoted to the working out of policies that could make hydropower much more ecological in relation to ecosystems.
Ruslan Gavrilyuk, executive director of the National Ecological Center of Ukraine, said the seminar is the first activity of the project that was launched recently. The subject of the discussions is topical and broadly debated in society both in Ukraine and in Moldova. The impact of hydropower on the environment became a topical issue also in the other EaP member states. Earlier, they said the hydropower is a safe, renewable, green source that does not influence climate change. But studies show that if the legal norms are not respected, a negative impact is produced on ecosystems.
Elena Zubkov, corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of Moldova, said this project centers on the evaluation and estimation of the impact of the Nistrean hydropower complex on the Nistru River. “It is a vital problem for us, Moldova, as we see the degradation of the Nistru. In time, we lose that ecosystem of the river that is turning from a fluvial or running ecosystem into an ecosystem of lakes,” she stated.
Halina Protsiv, president of the association “Krai” based in Ternopol region, stated that if a living organism that contains water is divided into parts, such as hands, legs and liquid, this organism will no longer be alive. The same is true about the Nistru River Basin that consists of smaller, medium and larger rivers that must be kept. If the intentions to build new hydropower plants on the Nistru are put into practice, there is a risk that the whole basin will be affected and the population will also suffer.
Victor Melnychuk, expert of the Kiev-based National Ecological Center, said both Moldova and Ukraine signed Association Agreements with the EU and this offers them development opportunities. But these documents also stipulate obligations, more exactly commitments that the government and society must assume.