Water sources in Central Asia
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  • 1. Water Resources in Central Asia
  • 2. The Syr Darya Basin
  • 3. The Syr Darya Basin The Syr Darya drains an area of over 800,000 square kilometres, but no more than 200,000 square kilometres actually contribute significant flow to the river. Its annual flow is a very modest 37 cubic kilometres per year half that of its sister river, the Amu Darya. Kyrgyzstan is the upstream country. Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kazakhstan is downstream countries. Kyrgyzstan privatized its state and collectivefarms; this privatization resulted in an increase in the number of agricultural water users in 90's.
  • 4. İncrease in demand for water for agricultural purposes in the upstream countries has the effect of reducing the availability of water for downstream users. Kyrgyzstan did not allow much flexibility to downstream countries. İn 2002 the number of farms had increased to some 84,000, most of which were small in size. Although at the main rivers these changes might not be obvious, at the small transboundary tributaries within the Ferghana Valley the small changes have significant impact, but were not noticed internationally.
  • 5.  Disputes in which water played a significant role were based not on allocation issues, but on different uses of water in now-competing sectors, such as water releases from the Toktogul Reservoir for hydropower. The previous arrangements for water allocation ceased to function when Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan began to charge market prices for petroleum and gas supplies to Kyrgyzstan. Kyrgyzstan began to release water from Toktogul during the winter, instead of during the summer, to produce energy for its population; 90% of Kyrgyzstan’s energy consumption is based on hydropower.
  • 6.   On 17 March 1998, the governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan adopted an interstate agreement on the use of the water and energy resources of the Syr Darya River basin. According to this agreement, each riparian state is responsible for the operation and maintenance costs of the water infrastructure owned by it (Article VII). Nevertheless, the downstream riparian states agreed to purchase Kyrgyz hydropower during the summer and sell other energy resources to Kyrgyzstan in the winter.
  • 7. The Talas Basin
  • 8. The Talas Basin During the Soviet era, the Kyrgyz SSR and the Kazakh SSR signed an agreement on water sharing in the Talas Basin in Moscow on 31 January 1983. Under the agreement it was decided to share the flow within the Talas Basin equally 50% to each republic. The 1983 protocol assumes a mean annual flow of 1616 million m3 in the Talas Basin. Kazakhstan’s share has two components. The main component is the discharge from the Kirov Reservoir of 716 million m3 the remaining 92 million m3 are formed within Kazakhstan’s own territory.
  • 9. The agreement determines that Kazakhstan should receive 579.6 million m3 from the Kirov Reservoir in the vegetation period and in the non-vegetation period an amount of 136.4 million m3 The 1983 agreement makes no reference to the operation and maintenance costs of the reservoir.  Kyrgyzstan supplied to Kazakhstan in 1997 and in 1998 less water during the vegetation season than the agreed amount.
  • 10.  On 21 January 2000 in Astana, Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan signed an agreement on cost sharing for the transboundary water infrastructure in the Chu and Talas Basin. The agreement was only ratified by the Republic of Kazakhstan. The agreement makes no reference to the water-sharing agreement signed in Moscow in 1983, but water sharing is vaguely addressed in the first Article: ‘The Parties agree that use of water resources, operation and maintenance of the water facilities for interstate use shall be allocated to the mutual benefit of the Parties on a fair and reasonable basis.
  • 11. The Zerafshan Basin
  • 12. The Zerafshan Basin At the beginning of the 2000s the international conflict focus on the Zerafshan Basin was mainly on water pollution. However, total six hydropower projects as priority projects for the Zerafshan River  In a more recent study the former Soviet plans to establish a cascade of 14 smaller hydropower plants in the upper Zerafshan are mentioned. Nevertheless, after a feasibility study by the Chinese company Sino Hydro on three locations, only the Yavan HPP was selected. Even though Schrader argues that the Yavan Dam would not have any impact on Uzbekistan.
  • 13. Conclusion All the Central Asian countries continue to follow a long-term strategy of irrigation management transfer and therefore will charge the costs of operation and maintenance to the water users, it appears that some of the currently active irrigated areas will slowly disappear because of the high cost of lift irrigation and because of the potential costs for the operation and maintenance of reservoirs and the competition with other sectors or foreign consumers when it comes to cheap electricity from hydropower.