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Irtysh River problems may cause water shortages in Kazakhstan and Russia

10 september 2013, 18:27
0
Irtysh river. ©RIA Novosti
Irtysh river. ©RIA Novosti
Kazakhstan and Russia may shortly face serious water shortages because of the deterioration of the situation around the Irtysh River, RG.ru writes referring to the international seminar called Sustainable development of Asian countries, water resources and biological diversity effected by the climate changes in Kazakhstan's Barnaul attended by the experts from Russia, Iran, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Turkey, South Korea and Armenia in late August.

According to the experts, Irtysh water is being intensely used up in China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region: in 1999-2005 it consumed 11.4 percent of the river's stock where as in 2010-2011 it was consuming over 30 percent. The experts do not preclude that the consumption will reach 40 percent in the nearest time. The experts believe that amid this rate of consumption the river will be stressed and several regions will face the severe water shortage.

“Asian countries have still not develop efficient institutional forms of transborder cooperation. Some of them, e.g. China, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan, are still outside the legal field here. This countries have neither signed the 1992 and 1996 Helsinki agreements nor other legal regulations,” said Yuriy Vinokurov, Director of the Institute for Water and Environmental Problems of the Siberian Branch of the Russian Academy of Science.

The Irtysh River is 4,248km long, it is one the main feeders of the Ob River (in Russia). Irtysh flows across Kazakhstan (1,700km), Russia (2,010km) and China (525km). Together with Ob, Irtysh is the longest river in Russia, second long in Asia and 6th long in the world (5,410km). Its basin’s area is 1,6 million sq.km.

The river starts in China and flows to Russia through Kazakhstan. Water from Irtysh feeds Irtysh-Karaganda channel that is used for general consumption and irrigation purposes in Kazakhstan. And there is a chain of hydro-power plants on the Irtysh River below Zaissan lake. The complex includes Bukhtarma, Ust-Kamenogorsk and Shulba hydro-power plants in Kazakhstan.

Several major cities are located on the Irtysh River in Kazakhstan: Serebryansk, Ust-Kamenogorsk, Semipalatinsk, Kurchatov, Aksu and Pavlodar.

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