Lithuania has asked Belarus for assistance in restoring the water level in the Neris River flowing through the two countries after it dropped considerably due to the ongoing drought, Lithuania's Ministry of Environment said on Wednesday.
© Saulius Žiūra

Minister Kestutis Mazeika informed the Belarusian Ministry of Natural Resources and Environmental Protection about the critical situation in the Neris River in Lithuania. In his words, the rapidly decreasing water level poses a threat to the Neris ecosystem, flora and fauna, as well as to ship traffic in both Lithuania and Belarus.

"We hope our neighbors will take the existing situation into account when regulating the Neris River's water level. They can release more water and thus save water flora and fauna," the minister said.

In a letter, Belarus is also asked if any activity in its territory could have reduced the water level in the Neris River amid extremely dry weather.

Lithuania's Hydrometeorological Service declared a national hydrological drought on Tuesday. The decision was made in response to Monday's calculations after the existing and the lowest average multiannual water levels were compared. It was determined that waters levels are lower or equal to the lowest average multiannual water level in 28 out of 48 water measuring stations in the country.

Ramute Bataitiene, a hydrologist from Lithuania's Hydrometeorological Service, told BNS Lithuania the water level in the Neris Rivers is now 41 cm lower than the July average and 73 cm lower than the annual average.

Neris is the second largest river in Lithuania after Nemunas and its headwaters are in Belarus. The county has a water reservoir on the river and has technical means to increase the water level in the river.

Mazeika told the national broadcaster LRT he hoped for a "positive answer" from Belarus, adding that Lithuania could assist the Belarusians with a fish-ladder project.

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