Ukraine’s Destroyed Dam Has Led To Parched Irrigation Channels

Via Newsweek, a report on the devastating impact that the destruction of Kakhovka dam is having upon Ukraine:

Ukrainian farmers face a pressing threat as the vital irrigation systems supplying water to their fields in Kherson start to dry up.

In June, the Kakhovka dam in Russia-occupied Kherson was destroyed in an explosion because of the ongoing conflict between the two nations. Ukraine and Russia have traded blame for the attack, which ruined the Kakhovka Hydroelectric Power Plant and thwarted Kyiv’s plans for an assault on Russian troops from across the waterway. Thousands of Ukrainians were endangered at that time as floodwaters rushed through the region. The drinking water supply also was threatened for more than 700,000 people, according to a report by the BBC.

Now, Ukrainian farmers are beginning to feel the long-term impacts of the dam’s destruction. New satellite imagery from Planet Labs, a public Earth imaging company, showed that the Kakhovka reservoir has been drained of its water, therefore parching the irrigation channels that feed the region’s fields.

The Ukrainian farming industry has faced many threats from the ongoing war with Russia. The war has destroyed farm equipment, and soldiers have razed fields. Damage to the farming industry has contributed to more than $8 billion in loss. The industry now faces another threat as the irrigation systems no longer supply the water needed for crops to flourish.

New satellite imagery from Planet Labs shared by Yale E360, a publication from Yale’s School of the Environment, revealed parched irrigation systems that had previously been full of flowing water. Two satellite photos—one from June 3 and the second from July 19—showed the extent of the disaster.

The photo from June 3 showed the North Crimean Canal rich with water traveling throughout the irrigation system. The second photo revealed dried land where the Kakhovka reservoir once flourished. The North Crimean Canal was also dry.

Newsweek reached out to Yale’s School of Environment by email for comment.

The four inlets connecting the reservoir to the irrigation system have dried up. Rain briefly supplemented the system following the Kakhovka dam explosion in June, but now the canals are almost empty. It will take up to seven years for the nation to restore irrigation from its reservoir, a feat that is only possible if the dam is rebuilt, according to a statement from the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine.

Ukrainian officials have warned that the irrigation struggles will have a weighty impact on the countries that import Ukrainian agricultural products. In 2022, 171 countries imported Ukrainian agricultural products and were largely dependent on Ukrainian wheat, according to the Yale E360 report. The Kakhovka dam destruction heightened global grain prices by 70 percent, threatening the survival of some of the countries dependent on Ukraine’s products.

“The world’s food security is once again in danger,” Ukraine’s agricultural minister Mykola Solskyi said in the statement. “If we cannot export food, the population of the poorest countries will be on the edge of survival.”

The lack of irrigation to more than half a million hectares of land is one of Ukraine’s most pressing problems in the agricultural industry. One hectare is equal to 10,000 square meters. Solskyi expected that land in the Kherson region without irrigation access also will suffer, as farmers now have no reason to cultivate it given their loss in stable income. Up to a million and a half hectares will not be used to their full potential because of the irrigation struggles.

Newsweek reached out to the Ministry of Agrarian Policy and Food of Ukraine by email for comment.

This entry was posted on Monday, August 7th, 2023 at 1:30 pm and is filed under Ukraine.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  Both comments and pings are currently closed. 

Comments are closed.

© 2024 Water Politics LLC .  'Water Politics', 'Water. Politics. Life', and 'Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty World' are service marks of Water Politics LLC.