Some hydrological specifications of Georgian water resources

Georgia lies along the eastern coast of the Black Sea, to the south of the main Caucasian Ridge. About 85% of the total land area is occupied by mountain ranges. The Lesser Caucasus mountains occupy the southern part of Georgia. These two mountain systems are linked by the centrally located Surami mountain range, which bisects the country into the western and eastern regions. To the west of the Surami Range, the relief becomes much lower and elevations are generally less than 100 m along the river valleys and the coast of the Black Sea. On the eastern side of the Surami Range, a high plateau known as the Kartli Plain extends along the River Kura. The two largest rivers in Georgia, the Kura and the Rioni, flow in opposite directions: the Kura, which originates in Turkey, runs generally eastward through Georgia and Azerbaijan into the Caspian Sea, while the Rioni runs generally westward through the lower Rioni valley and drains into the Black Sea. The average drainage density of the river network in Georgia is 0.6 km/km2. The density of the river network is conditioned by the impact of physical-geographical and climatic factors. The quantity of atmospheric precipitation plays a specially critical role. Generally, the density of the river network in Georgia decreases in parallel with the reduction of atom-spheric precipitation from the west to the east. In particular, the density of the river network in Western Georgia is about 1.07 km/km2, while in Eastern Georgia this figure is 0.68 km/km2 and the density of the river network in the driest regions Eastern of Georgia is very low at 0.1 km/km2 (Svanidze et al., 1988). There is almost no river network in the driest eastern regions of Georgia, where the annual quantity of precipitation is very low at 100-250 mm, and the level of evaporation is extremely high. About 99% of Georgian rivers are less than 25 km long, and only one river, the River Kura, is longer than 500 km. Also there are 43 natural and artificial lakes in Georgia, of which 35 are in East Georgia, for irrigation or hydropower generation Surface water and groundwater resources include numerous thermal and mineral springs. Many snow- and glacier-fed rivers are present in the Greater Caucasus. Groundwater resources are abundant, especially in the lower slopes of the Greater Caucasus and in the lava plateaus of the Javakheti mountains (Svanidze et al., 1988).

In Georgia, about 1,600 water-suppliers provide a total of 620 million cubic meters of drinking water per year. From this quantity 90% is consumed by urban population and 10% by rural (Mindorashvili, 2002). The main source of drinking water is groundwater, accounting for about 90% of the total amount of water feeding the centralized water-supply networks. No special treatment of groundwater takes place before it is supplied to the users; the water is only chlorinated. When surface water is used as raw material, this water is specially treated - precipitated and chlorinated.

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