Water Resources of Georgia
Area of the earth surface is 510.0 million square kilometres, its 71%, that is 362.1 million square kilometres, is occupied by the ocean that creates illusion of abundance of water resources. In fact 97.5% of the total hydrosphere reserve (1 353.3 million cubic kilometres) is almost useless for economic activities, due to its salinity (the World Ocean, the salty lakes and the wetlands).
Share of the fresh water that exists in form of rivers, glaciers, ground waters, lakes, reservoirs and wetlands, is just 2.5% or 34.7 million cubic metres.
Today only 12% of total fresh water stock, or 4.16 cubic metres is being used, that clearly demonstrates problem of fresh water deficit. According to internal waters (rivers, lakes, ground waters, glaciers, and wetlands) Georgia was one of the leading countries in the Soviet Union. However, rivers are unequally distributed between eastern and western Georgia. In western Georgia run-off of rivers (together with transit run-off) is 49.8 km3, and in eastern Georgia – 16.5 km3.
The problem of water consumption has a great importance among the factors having an impact on the river ecosystem, since using of water for economic activities, especially for irrigation causes lowering the water level, i.e. reduction of water resources. Increasing level of hydrosphere pollution is even more important and problematic. The main reasons for worsening of water quality are the following: irrigation, melioration of salty soils, wastewater, and improperly arraigned reservoir caves.
Importance of this problem can be justified by the following general examples: even those wastewaters which, after treatment return to the primary sources, require 15 fold dilutions with clean water in order to restore natural quality of water. Annual volume of wastewater of any types pollutes 12-15 times more natural water in general, that is a significant part of river run-off. Quality of river and reservoir water of Georgia is alarming. Even in 1986 pollution level per unit of river run-off was 17 times more than an average world index. Sharp decrease in industrial production in recent years implied only one positive result: amount of hazardous substances emitted into the atmosphere and pollution level in wastewaters decreased.
Inland water resources located on the country territory are the state property and can be used only on the basis of the licenses issued by authorized agencies. Ownership of the land does not imply permission for water use.
Throwing or burring industrial, household, toxic, radiatial and other hazardous waste into the water bodies or nearby areas is prohibited as well as discharge of wastewater without having an appropriate license. Despite of great importance of administrative-legislative policies, economically grounded scientific-technical activities play decisive role in environmental protection.
For example, rational allocation of industrial objects according to availability of water resources and its quality and implementing the technologies, that ensures getting the production with minimal consumption of natural resources and minimizing potential industrial waste.