Ukraine’s Soviet-era irrigation system has largely collapsed,

according to an explanatory note accompanying a Rada bill to allow farmers to create water cooperatives. In 1990, the last year of the Soviet Union, “hydraulic reclamation” was carried out on 23 million hectares of farmland in Ukraine. Last year, the figure was 551,000 hectares.

Of Ukraine’s 41.5 million hectares, 57% need some form of irrigation.

The bill’s note says18.7 million hectares need constant irrigation and 4.8 million need periodic irrigation. Expected to pass this year, the bill would break the state monopoly on setting water rates, but retain state ownership of major canals. The bill would protect the investments made by farmers in leased land.