Pernik to Be Supplied with Water from Belmeken Dam
January 18 (BTA) - In a bid to ease drinking water
rationing in Pernik, water will be supplied to the southwestern
city from the Belmeken Dam in Mt Rila using the infrastructure
of Sofia's water utility, Sofiyska Voda. This emerged at an
extraordinary meeting here on Saturday morning at which
Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borissov considered options to
address the water crisis in Pernik with Economy Minister Emil
Karanikolov, Environment and Water Minister Emil Dimitrov, and
Mayors Yordanka Fandakova of Sofia and Stanislav Vladimirov of
Water supply to nearly 82,000 residents of two urban and 17
rural settlements in Pernik Region has been rationed since
November 18, 2019, after the area's principal water source, the
Studena Dam, was found to have been critically drained to a
fifth of its capacity by a long-drawn draught. Other reasons are
a 70-year-old leaking infrastructure in which 75 per cent of
the water is lost before reaching users and the use of potable
water by the local district heating company and a steel mill.
The new source will provide 300 litres of water per second,
Borissov said at the beginning of Saturday's meeting. It will
require building a 13 km conduit between the Malo Bouchino
Reservoir and Pernik at the cost of 25 million leva, Karanikolov
explained. The facility can go under 24/7 construction
immediately and will be ready to carry 700,000 cu m monthly
within 40 days. The two-way system will provide an alternative
route to Sofia, too. The new conduit will not run through
privately owned land, and the need of expropriation will thus be
The price of water in Pernik will not be raised.
Business users in Pernik have been offered an alternative water
source: a nearby dam which will have to be linked to their
enterprises. Laboratory tests will show whether this water is
fit for industrial uses.
Dimitrov noted that water has thus been rerouted on numerous
occasions since 1993.
Vladimirov pointed out that this solution will calm down the
residents of Pernik and, in the long term, the area will not
face such ordeals.
Water mains in the city continue to be replaced because of the
huge losses in transit. The measures restricting water use from
the Studena Dam have proved underperforming.
Borissov said at the meeting that an option to pump water from
caves had been considered too, but it poses a significant risk
of ruining the environment.
Impact on Sofia
Borissov, Dimitrov and the Sofiyska Voda representatives all
pledged that the project will not affect adversely water supply
to the capital city.
Later in the day, City Hall quoted Fandakova as saying in a
press release that the proposal for the Belmeken link will be
laid before the Sofia Municipal Council solely provided Sofia's
water supply is 100 per cent guaranteed.
"I asked the Government and the Mayor of Pernik to provide all
the available information on the proposal as early as on
Monday," Fandakova says. She is adamant that as of today's date
Sofia's water supply from the quantities held in the Iskar Dam
(75 per cent) and the Beli Iskar Dam (25 per cent) is ensured
for years to come. The Mayor demanded guarantees that the
additional water quantities from the catchment area of the
Belmeken Dam would be paid for and that a control valve would be
installed upstream from the Malo Bouchino Reservoir so that the
supply to Pernik could be stopped at the slightest imbalance of
the water supply to Sofia.
"All additional works can only be financed by the State budget.
Without any of these conditions, I personally will not back a
consideration of the proposal by the Sofia Municipal Council,"
Fandakova states. She insisted that, by the same decision, the
Cabinet should commit to a start of a repair of the Beli Iskar
Dam wall even this year and to the construction of a new route
from the Ognyanovo Dam to Sofia's water transmission system as a
back-up drinking water source for the capital city in the long
term to safeguard against climate change. RY/LG