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Turning rivers back into Kazakhstan may solve problems 27 сентября 2013, 19:11

Kazakhstan researchers are proposing two projects, both of which involve turning the rivers flowing outside Kazakhstan back into the country.
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Black Irtysh. Photo courtesy of yvision.kz Black Irtysh. Photo courtesy of yvision.kz
Kazakhstan scientists believe there can be an original solution to the country's water deficit problem, NP writes. Kazakhstan is experiencing a deficit of water in its biggest river Irtysh that enters Kazakhstan from China. The latter has been diverting more and more water from the river as it strives to develop its desert-like western territories. The two countries have been repeatedly discussing the use of the river, and China has been giving Kazakhstan a lot of friendly promised, but the situation with the quality and quality of water in the river has been going from bad to worse. Kazakhstan researchers are proposing two projects, both of which involve turning the rivers flowing outside Kazakhstan back into the country. The first project involves diverting the Tikhaya river into the Bukhtarma river. This will provide two additional cubic kilometers of water per year. Bukhtarma is the river that flows into the Irtysh River from the right side. “We suggest building Belokatun hydro power plant. The mountain river Tikhaya that starts in Katon-Karagai region of East-Kazakhstan Oblast and flows into the Katun river may be 'caught' at the border with Russia and diverted back to Kazakhstan. This will require construction of a 4.5km-long pressure tunnel with a diameter of 3m through rocks. Tikhaya will flow through the tunnel not to the Russian river but to our river Bukhtarma. Belokatun hydro power station with a 1.25-billion-cubic-meter water reservoir may be constructed in the water level difference area,” experts of Altai technopark said. The Ust-Kamenogorsk-based technopark focuses on Kazakhstan's innovative development and technological modernization. According to the researchers, the water pressure in the Tikhaya River will make 62 cubic meters per second and will almost fully cover the water deficit caused by China since it launched its Karamai channel at the Black Irtysh river. The water balance will be restored in the river and the oblast will receive almost three billion of additional kilowatt-hours per year. The project will cost around $500 million. The second project involves a “possible diversion of the Ak-Kaby and Kara-Kaby rivers that start in Katon-Karagai region of Kazakhstan and flow to the Black Irtysh in China”. According to the Director of the Institute of Water and Ecology Issues of Russian Academy of Science Yuriy Vinokurov, these rivers may be diverted from the border via a 20km-long tunnel to the Black Irtysh constructed on Kazakhstan’s territory, which “may temporarily solve the water deficit problem”. Earlier Kazakhstan ecologists warned that Kazakhstan could face an ecological disaster in the nearest 10-20 years if it fails to solve the issue around the joint use of the Ili and Irtysh rivers with China. Balkhash lake may repeat the fate of the Aral Sea. Astana, Temirtau, Karaganda, Ekibastuz, Pavlodar, Ust-Kamenogorsk and Semey may be cut off from fresh water supply, and the Irtysh river may turn into a chain of bogs and slack puddles, and Bukhtarminskaya and Shulbinskaya hydro-power stations will stop.
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