Kazakhstan has no plans to divert Irtysh: authority

25 june 2013, 18:40
Kazakhstan has no plans to divert Irtysh: authority - At Irtysh river. ©RIA Novosti
At Irtysh river. ©RIA Novosti
The General Plan of Territories Organization in Kazakhstan does not provide for diversions of the Irtysh River, Tengrinews.kz reports citing the press-service of the Astana branch of Kazakh Scientific-Research and Design Institute of Construction and Architecture.

Nevertheless the document does suggest to transfer a part of the Irtysh River flow for irrigation and other purposes, the press-service writes. According to the authority, the share of up to 6 cubic kilometers of the yearly water flow will be made available for the purposes. “It is suggested to limit the transfer of the water flow with this ceiling amount,” the authority writes. The water is going to be diverted to the regions of Kazakhstan that experience shortage of water. The suggestion will be considered only after an in-depth scientific research with participation of the neighboring countries is made.

6 cubic kilometers of the yearly water flow is not a very insignificant amount for Kazakhstan, though.

"At present the volume of run-off of all the rivers in Kazakhstan is estimated at 100.5 cubic kilometers a year. Of them 44 cubic kilometers enter Kazakhstan from the territories of the neighboring countries: 7.4 cubic kilometers from Russia, 13.7 from Uzbekistan, 3 from Kyrgyzstan, 19.9 from China. But very recently the Institute of Geography made a new survey that showed that the actual total run-off makes 91.3 cubic kilometers a year," Vice-Minister of Agriculture Marat Tolibayev said during round-table discussions in the Majilis (lower chamber of the parliament) in December 2012.

Regardless of the version of the estimates, the total run-off has decreased by 23.3 cubic kilometers, with trans-border run-off decreasing by 15.9 cubic kilometers, over the past 10 years, the Vice-Minister continued.

The layout shows that the 6 cubic kilometers a year that are expected to be transferred elsewhere from the Irtysh River in Kazakhstan constitute a major part of all the run-off that Kazakhstan gets from Russia. The river starts in China and flows to Russia. Then it enters Kazakhstan from Russia. The Irtysh River is 4,248km long, it flows 1,700km in Kazakhstan, 2,010km in Russia and 525km in China.

Director of the Astana branch of Kazakh Scientific-Research and Design Institute of Construction and Architecture Turlybek Musabyaev believes that transfer of this amount is not going to hurt Kazakhstan. He says that based on calculations the 6 cubic kilometers of water is an extra amount that turns up on Kazakhstan's water balance after fifty-fifty water apportioning with Russia and with due consideration of China's water intake. Besides, he says, Kazakhstan can build a new water storage reservoir to increase its water intake capacity.

Besides, the Institute’s representatives says that the suggestions of the General Plan are made in the form of recommendations. Approval of the water transfer will be made based on articles 4 and 5 of the Agreement between the Governments of Russia and Kazakhstan on joint use and protection of the trans-border water resources (Orenburg, August 27, 1992), as well as in line with article 2 of the Rules on the Uses of the Waters of International Rivers (Helsinki, 1966).

The General Plan will be submitted to the government in August 2013. The Ministry of the Regional Development hopes that the document will be approved and will come in effect on January 1, 2014. All its provisions will then be implemented within the next 25-30 years.

Earlier Tengrinews.kz English reported on the plans of the Ministry to divert the Irtysh River. The suggestion was made as part of the General Plan of Territories Organization in Kazakhstan.

By Alisher Akhmetov

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