North Crimean Canal

Image - The North Crimean Canal (in 2015).

North Crimean Canal [Північнокримський канал; Pivnichnokrymskyi kanal]. A long canal system in Kherson oblast and in the Crimea, running from the Kakhovka Reservoir on the Dnipro River through the Perekop Isthmus to the Crimean city of Kerch. After the Crimea was transferred (1954) to the Ukrainian SSR, the canal’s main sluice was built in 1956, at the same time as the Kakhovka Reservoir, on the east side of Nova Kakhovka at Tavriisk. Construction of the canal bed began in 1957 and was accomplished in two stages: from Kakhovka to the Crimea at Krasnoperekopsk by 1963; and through the Crimea to the outskirts of Kerch by 1975. The length of the canal system is 402.6 km, the maximum width is 60 m, and the depth varies from 6 to 13 m. The main canal consists of an undivided 200-km stretch from Kakhovka to Dzhankoi and then four sections with pumps and locks that raise the water 103 m. The average annual water flow is 300 cu m/sec; its maximum capacity is 380 cu m/sec. There are 24 regulating stations along the length of the canal, including 5 reservoirs, and 118 escape gates and pumping stations. The southeastern terminus is the Kerch Reservoir, from which water is supplied by pipe to the city of Kerch.

The canal supplies an irrigation network in the steppes of Kherson oblast and the Crimea. Stage one, completed by 1978, had two branch canals in Kherson oblast (the Krasnoznamianka Canal and the Chaplynka Canal) and in the Crimea three major branches 300 km long: the western Rozdolnensk branch, which extends as the Ziednuvalnyi (Unifying) canal that supplies water to the Black Sea Canal and the Saky Canal; the central Kransohvardiisk canal; and the eastern Azov Canal. This enabled the irrigation of 188,000 ha. Stage two, in 1979–82, extended the supply of additional water by pumps, pipes and reservoirs to Simferopol, Teodosiia, and other cities on the south coast, and expanded irrigation in the Crimea to another 89,000 ha.

In the summer of 2014, following Russian occupation and annexation of the Crimea, Ukraine built a dam with flow control and measurement near Kalanchak. Since the Russian Federation would not agree to compensate, Ukraine blocked the flow of water to the Crimea.

On 24 February 2022 Russian troops invaded Ukraine. Russian forces from the Crimea took control of the North Crimean Canal in Kherson oblast and on 26 February blew up the concrete dam near Kalanchak, thus releasing the flow of water to Crimea.

Ihor Stebelsky

[This article was updated in 2022.]

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