Destruction of Kakhovka Dam Causes Severe Water Crisis in Southern Ukraine.

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Satellite Images Reveal Disconnected Canal Networks

The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam in southern Ukraine has resulted in the drying up of one of Europe’s largest reservoirs. The verified analyzed satellite images, which showed that four canal networks have become disconnected from the reservoir. This situation is expected to impact drinking water supplies for over 700,000 people, primarily in Russian-occupied areas. Experts also warn of the critical impact on food production in the region due to the loss of water from the canals.

Widespread Flooding Followed the Destruction of the Dam

The Kakhovka Dam was destroyed on 6th June, causing extensive flooding that affected settlements and farmland across the region. Since then, satellite images have revealed a continuous drop in water levels in both the reservoir and the canals it feeds. The canals not only provide drinking water to large parts of southern Ukraine but also serve as irrigation sources for vast areas of farmland. The dam acted as a flood defense for downstream areas, mainly to the south and southwest. As of 15th June, all four canal entrances had become disconnected as the reservoir’s water level continued to decrease.

Implications for Food Production and Water Supply

Satellite images further illustrate the significant drying up of the reservoir, which previously held 18 cubic kilometers of water. The shallower areas of the reservoir have become exposed, revealing the original shape of the Dnipro River prior to the dam’s construction in 1956. While the canals still contain water farther away from the reservoir, it remains uncertain how long it will take for them to run dry. The loss of water supply due to the drying up of extensive canal systems poses a long-term challenge to food production. These canals primarily irrigate summer crops such as corn, soybeans, sunflowers, as well as winter crops like wheat, vegetables, and fruit. Without water, farmland becomes vulnerable to drought, jeopardizing both crop yields and drinking water availability.

The Urgent Need for Dam Reconstruction

Rebuilding the Kakhovka Dam appears to be the only viable long-term solution to restore water security in the area. With the current drop in water levels, the canals no longer receive adequate water supply. Mykola Solskyi, Ukraine’s Minister of Agrarian Policy and Food, emphasized the necessity of rebuilding the dam to raise water levels. Experts highlight that without the dam’s regulation, the region faces heightened risks of both drought and flooding. In the absence of proper flood defenses, some areas may become unsuitable for settlement due to their proximity to river levels. The consequences of the dam’s destruction extend beyond Ukraine, impacting global food security as the country is a major exporter of sunflower, maize, wheat, and barley.

The Future Outlook and Challenges Ahead

The destruction of the Kakhovka Dam has left a downstream catchment of the river uncontrolled, increasing the likelihood of floods during wet periods. The absence of a functioning dam also presents challenges for the return of evacuated populations, as settlement in vulnerable areas near the river becomes uncertain. As the search for solutions continues, the urgent need for dam reconstruction or the implementation of extensive flood defenses becomes evident. Without these measures, the region faces ongoing water crises and potential long-term consequences for agricultural productivity and local communities.

SOURCE: Ref Image from VOA

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