The main issues of the Rioni river basin were discussed in Tskaltubo, on November 13. A second consultation meeting was held for the Enguri river basin in Zugdidi, on November 14.
Both meetings were attended by around 90 participants in total (60 for the Rioni and 30 for the Enguri river basin districts), representing national authorities from Tbilisi, local authorities (regional and municipal), NGOs, and research/academia. They represented various water uses: domestic water supply, agriculture, energy, environment, industry. Representatives of the EU4Environment Water and Data programme, supporting the development of the River Basin Management Plans (RBMPs) were also present.
Water quality, river shape change, ecosystems and risks: these are some of the issues discussed for the river basins
The aim of the public consultation meeting was to share the key water management issues identified and to facilitate feedback from local stakeholders. The first sessions focused on presenting the main pressures and their impacts in the basin. The afternoon was devoted to refining the main issues to be addressed, either through specific working groups or open discussion.
The issues identified by the consultants and discussed with the participants were: deterioration of water quality; disruption of water flow and continuity, partly due to energy infrastructure; risks such as floods and mudslides; ineffectiveness of the current legal and institutional framework for basin management, including the lack of comprehensive systems for monitoring surface and groundwater quality.
The two river basins are home to exceptional fish species
The Enguri River is historically known for its sturgeon population. Following the construction of the Enguri Dam, impassable obstacles have hindered sturgeon migration and spawning. There is limited research on the current state of the river for potential sturgeon habitat or restoration efforts. The Rioni River historically housed important spawning areas for Black Sea sturgeon. Both river basins have diverse wetlands that serve as important habitats for numerous species of birds, amphibians, fish, and other aquatic organisms.
The Rioni River, the largest river in western Georgia, and the Enguri River, which carves its way through deep gorges, rise in the Greater Caucasus and flow into the Black Sea. As they descend from the mountains, they form valleys and plains. The lower parts of the Rioni basin, in particular, consist of wide lowlands and extensive fertile floodplains, which are conducive to agricultural activities. Both river basins are characterized by a humid subtropical climate, with mild winters and warm to hot summers.
Background information on the Enguri and Rioni River Basin Management Plans
The Rioni River Basin, covering 15,000 km2 with 880,000 people, contributes over 20% to Georgia's GDP. It is worth mentioning that the Rioni river is The Enguri River Basin is smaller, it covers 6,600 km2 with 240,000 people, and contributes 5% to Georgia's GDP.