In most settlements of the region, general condition and appearance of buildings, structures, yards, streets, sidewalks, squares, gardens, and parks are unsatisfactory. In the recent years, significant attention was paid to the improvement of the appearances of municipal centers and street lighting works.
Spatial and territorial planning does not take place at any regional or municipal level.
Total length of the region’s roads (including internal roads) is 5,800 km. 414.3 km of local roads are covered with asphalt; ground roads-32.6 km; and 4,100 km are covered with gravel. The 116.1 km long Tbilisi-Senaki-Leselidze road of international significance crosses the territory of Samegrelo-Zemo Svaneti region. In 2011-2012, GEL 320 million was invested by the state into the construction and renovation of roads. And still most roads do not comply with the relevant standards and require further works. In 2013, implementation of infrastructure projects for over GEL 150 million were planned. Most of these projects involve renovation of roads (including city and village) and bridges.
99.92% of the households of the region are provided with electricity. Power supply is uninterrupted, though there are some problems related to the safety of high voltage lines.
Gas supply is fully provided in the cities of Zugdidi, Poti, Martvili, Abasha, Senaki, khobi and in some villages.
Central water supply is provided to the apartments of 17.8% of the households and to the yards and blocks of 9.8% of households. 69.3% of the households depend upon artesian wells and 3% depend on natural springs. For the most part of population, high quality potable water is unavailable. In the Samegrelo section of Rioni River basin, the systems of central water supply are located in all municipal centers (Poti, Martvili, Senaki and Abasha). Water supply is provided by the service centers of United Water Company of Georgia. Quality of supplied water corresponds to the standards.
Sewage systems of the region are in very poor condition and hence, untreated domestic wastewaters as well as poorly treated wastewaters from the operating enterprises and medical facilities are discharged into the rivers of the region and further into the Black Sea. This situation is very alarming and is a significant problem for the region, its population, environmental safety, and socio-economic development. Currently renovation of water supply and water disposal network, construction of the municipal sewage systems and their water treatment facilities along Black Sea coastal zone (Poti, Zugdidi, Anaklia and the mountainous territory of Mestia) of the region are completed. Water treatment facilities are under construction in Poti. These measures will significantly reduce the degree of Black Sea pollution and increase the opportunities for the use of Black Sea shore for recreation purposes.
Relevant municipal services regularly dispose of the domestic wastes from Poti, municipal centers and some villages. The population of the villages disposes domestic wastes in the nearest ravines, roadsides and river banks, thus creating small uncontrolled “landfills”.
Cleaning enterprises that operate within the self-governing units provide services to the cities, towns and some villages.
Each self-governing unit of the region (with the exception of Mestia) operates one landfill; however, environmental permit is issued for the landfill located in Khobi Municipality only. Aggregate area of 8 landfills of the region is 43.4 hectares and quantity of wastes generated per year is over 139,500 m3. Sorting and separation of the wastes does not take place in the region. In addition, organic wastes composting is not practiced. In total, there are 30 enterprises with relevant environmental permits in the region, 4 of which have permit for economic activities related to wastes processing, neutralization, destruction and disposal. There is no designated landfill for the industrial wastes in the region and wastes of the operating enterprises are stocked within the enterprises’ territories or disposed in the sanitary landfills. No inventory of industrial wastes quantities was conducted. Hence, it is hard to assess their toxicity. There is no official information about the existence and condition of the operating and abandoned warehouses of agricultural wastes and pesticides in the region. Disposal of the wastes from the region’s medical and prevention facilities is provided by the organization with a relevant permit, though safe management of the entire quantity of medical wastes generated in the region is not ensured. Currently construction of the new regional sanitary landfill in Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti region is under consideration. Implementation of this project would significantly contribute to dealing with the environmental issues related to waste management.
Fire emergency – rescue services
Emergency Situation Management Service operates within the administration of the State Representative, the Governor, with 2 special emergency vehicles at its disposal. All municipalities have fire emergency-rescue services. Zugdidi Municipality Emergency Service with its state-of-art equipment is distinguished among them. In the other self-governing units, qualification of the personnel and material and technical equipment of the fire emergency rescue services do not comply with the international standards.
The region’s territory is covered with cell phone communication networks. Internet network operates in the region via mobile networks (modems) and satellite dishes. High quality and cheap internet communication is available in Zugdidi, Poti and Senaki only. Service centers of Georgian Post operate in all self-governing units.
V. Environment Protection
In Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti region, air quality is negatively impacted by the 87 stationary entities operating in the regionregion.Key sources of pollution in the region are as follows: sea terminal (49.67%); docks (17.18%), and asphalt producing enterprises (19.44%). Their share in total emissions of the region is 86.3%. According to the statistical data on emission of harmful substances into the atmosphere, emissions increased in 2012, compared with the previous years (increase of emissions of volatile organic substances was 88%; sulfur oxide – 18%; nitrogen oxides – 15%; and CO – 14%). Causes for pollution growth include growth of emissions from the operating enterprises and Poti Port (particularly, from loading of oil and oil products). The region is not included in the air pollution monitoring network and hence air quality is not monitored regularly.
Negative impact on the surface water bodies is caused not only by the above-mentioned sources of pollution (operating enterprises), but also other sources like flood and wastewaters from the settlements, open quarries, wastewaters from agricultural lands and formal or spontaneous landfills.
Pollution of the environment with the wastes and chemical substances, similar to t other regions of Georgia, is one of the most significant environmental problems in Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti region.
It should be noted that in the recent years in Samegrelo, fall webworms greatly affected the agriculture sector and toxic pesticides are widely used for their elimination, which in turn negatively impact the quality of surface water bodies adjacent to the agricultural lands.
Surface water resources in the region, Rioni River and Paliastomi lake, are included into the hydro-meteorological monitoring network and water quality is monitored with certain frequency. According to monitoring data for the period 2005-12, BOD5 is within normal limits for all monitoring points. Concentrations of nitrite ion and ammonium exceed maximum admissible values by 2-3 times. Sources of these pollutants, supposedly, are utility and industrial wastewaters and wastewaters from agricultural lands. This is a concerning situation as through the rivers the pollutants are transported into the sea and hence undermine the sea water quality.
Within the region, all vulnerable ecosystems of Rioni River basin are located at the river mouth and coastal zone. The moors, sphagnum marshes, dunes and pine forests, as well as Paliastomi Lake are protected by Ramsar International Convention. The artificially built channel (in 1924) has significantly changed the hydrobiology of Paliastomi Lake, causing reduction of biomass of the pure water plankton 15 times and of benthos by 6 times. While 27 of 36 species of fish were recorded in the lake in 1984, currently only 16 species are left. Regarding significance of the above-mentioned water bodies, their study and assessment using hydrological, hydro-chemical and hydro-biological methods is the goal of numerous international projects.
It should be noted that large industrial entities like Baku-Tbilisi-Ceihan oil pipeline, western export pipeline (Baku-Supsa) and Engurhesi operate in the region. Given their size, these entities pose high risks for both the regional population and ecosystem. Thus, an emergency response plan to deal with these risks is required.
Condition of the forests in the region is unsatisfactory. Simultaneous to timber production, measures for forest maintenance and restoration should be implemented. Naturally caused and anthropogenic forest fires could be regarded as risk factors and as key reason for forest degradation. Sanitary condition of the region’s forests is unsatisfactory. According to the data of recent years, harmful pests fall webworms were noticed. In the recent years, mass damage of buxus plantations was recorded.
Forests of Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti region are distinguished with high rate of self-restoration. Natural renovation is apparent both in coniferous and deciduous forests. Implementation of restoration activities is obligatory for the special licenses holders for timber production. With the inclusion of licensees and authorities into the restoration measures, forests management, and sustainable forest use, environmental balance in the region’s forests could be maintained.