31 июля 2014 20:49

Irrigation water shortage in Kyrgyzstan hits Kazakhstan


Photo courtesy of danube-river.info. Photo courtesy of danube-river.info.

The Water Resources Committee of Kazakhstan's Ministry of Environment has commented on the decrease in water supply to Kazakhstan from Kyrgyzstan, Tengrinews reports.

The Water Resources Committee of Kazakhstan's Ministry of Environment has commented on the decrease in water supply to Kazakhstan from Kyrgyzstan, Tengrinews reports.

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The supply was reduced started from July 11 when Kyrgyzstan halved the flow of water coming across the border to Kazakhstan citing an abnormal drought that has not been seen for almost 23 years in Kyrgyzstan.

"There is only one cause - mountain springs are not giving us the usual amount of water," head of Shu region (northern Kyrgyzstan) water management department Ruslan Devyatkulov said. This resulted in excessive use of the water stored in water reservoirs and ponds.

According to the department, Kyrgyzstan had used up around 70 percent of its irrigation water from reservoirs by mid summer, and so it could not afford to turn on the supply to Kazakhstan back to the normal flow.

This year, Kazakhstan has received less than 89 million cubic meters of irrigation water from the Talas River, and around 78 million cubic meters from the Shu River. The irrigation water average per a hectar makes 8,000 cubic meters a year. And if the situation persists next year, the water deficit will cause the sowing land in the area irrigated by the water coming down the Talas River to decrease by 11,125 hectares and 9,750 hectares will be cut off the sowing land in the area irrigated by the Shu River, the Kazakh Water Resources Committee told Tengrinews.

According to the committee, these two rivers are the main source of irrigation water for farmlands in Zhambyl oblast in southern Kazakhstan. The runoff forms almost entirely on the territory of Kyrgyzstan. The two countries share the water resources of the Talas and Shu rivers according to the agreement adopted in 1983. They share the Talas River 50 to 50 percent and the Shu River 42 percent (Kazakhstan) to 58 percent (Kyrgyzstan).

On the first decade of July, Kazakhstan was supposed to get the water at the rate of 60 cubic meters per second down the Talas River. And the initial weather forecast expected the amount of water in the rivers during the vegetation period in 2014 to be 25-30 percent below the normal amount. But the forecast did not work out and the actual amount made only 46 percent of the normal level. Therefore, the water sharing schedule had to be adjusted in the end of June, and the water supply on the first 20 days of July was reduced to 42 cubic meters per second and further reduced to 35 cubic meters per second started from the third decade of July. It is quite possible that the water sharing schedule will be adjusted again later.

"As of July 11, the water supply from Shu river for Kazakhstan's Kordai region is as follows:

- 15 cubic meters per second along Georgievskiy main canal instead of the required 20 cubic meters per second,

- 2.6 cubic meters along Zhinishke-Aktas channel instead of the required 4 cubic meters per second,

- 0.7 cubic meters per second down Kolos channel instead of the required 2 cubic meters per second,

and starting from June 14 Kyrgyzstan cannot supply any water down Merkenskiy channel," the committee said. 

Future water supply from Kyrgyzstan will depend on the inflow of water into the reservoir and down the Shu and Talas Rivers.

The only hope for Kyrgyzstan is a sudden warming, which can change the situation. If the temperature in the mountains at night rises to 25-26 degrees, the glaciers will melt more rapidly. However the weather has been rather cool so far.

Reporting by Aidana Usupova, writing by Assel Satubaldina, editing by Tatyana Kuzmina

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