Disappearing Lake Ohrid

SEP 2017: Last winter, Lake Ohrid’s water fell below legally permitted levels, endangering the sensitive shallow waters where many of its most unusual species live. We’re now watching it drop towards the danger zone again.

Why is this happening? Fault appears to lie with the power company ELEM, which controls Lake Ohrid’s outflow by means of a sluice at the entrance of the River Crn Drim in the town of Struga.

ELEM does this to provision hydroelectric dams and thereby supply electricity to its customers. This is permitted provided that the water levels in the UNESCO lake do not exceed certain parameters, i.e. 693.75 meters above sea level at maximum and 693.10 meters a.s.l. at minimum.

However, approaching the minimum level should only really occur during times of crisis, not during everyday operations. Ohrid SOS is therefore unsettled to see the water dip to 693.21 meters, which is borderline to the point where damage may occur.

Consequently, we have fired a warning via our Facebook page, letting ELEM know that we are watching carefully and requesting them to do the same. The State Inspectorate for the Environment in the Republic of Macedonia has promised to look into the matter also.

We hope there will be no repeat of the winter incident.

📷: Ljupco Lepi

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