Water problems of central asia and their solutions

Abstract. The article deals with the general context: of global demand for water, water problems of Central Asia and ways to solve them, water strategy of the Republic of Kazakhstan; the final part describes the fundamental issues of regional cooperation, including in the field of scientific.

As we know, authoritative international organizations, primarily the UN and UNESCO, attach great importance to solving water problems.

Global demand for water is increasing at a rate of about 1% per year, depending on population growth, economic development and changing consumption patterns, and it will grow over the next two decades. The vast majority of the growing demand for water will occur in emerging economies.

Due to climate change, there is an intensification of the global water cycle in nature – in regions with a humid climate, the latter becomes even wetter, in regions with a dry climate - even drier. The UN estimates that 3.6 billion people (almost half the world’s population) now live in waterscarce areas. By 2050, this number could be between 4.8 and 5.7 billion people.

Typical contradictions and tasks of water resources management in the development and functioning of water management systems of river basins are:

  • interstate, due to the difference of national interests in the use of transboundary water resources;
  • natural and economic, associated with conflicting requirements for water sources according to economic development and conservation of the natural environment;
  • intersectoral, arising in connection with the difference in requirements for the volume, mode and quality of water resources of individual sectors of water management (industrial and municipal water supply, irrigation, hydropower, fisheries, water transport);
  • interregional, due to conflicting requirements to the hydrological regime of the water source of the upper and lower water users of river basins.

Security level. National security aspects

There are six levels of security in political science: individual, group, societal (security of an individual society or a community of culturally close societies), national (security of the state), international and global.

When analyzing the threats to national security posed by the water problem, it is necessary to consider the international, in this case regional, level.

The most important aspects of national security are economic, military, social and environmental aspects, relevant to solving water problems in Central Asia.

All transboundary water bodies create hydrological, social and economic relationship between the countries of the Central Asian Republics. The vital nature of freshwater is a powerful incentive for cooperation and dialogue, reconciling conflicting positions of countries. Water should be seen as a unifying factor. The conceptual basis of relations on transboundary waters should be the fundamental principle of equal use of common water resources by different countries and mutual responsibility for their protection.

Water threats: problems and solutions

Water resources, being an integral component of the environment, can manifest itself as a formidable element, bringing destruction and disaster. In the context of global and regional climate change in the CAR, there is a tendency to increase the frequency and depth of manifestation of water-related emergencies: droughts, floods, mudslides, landslides, breakouts of glacial lakes.

Each of the formulated tasks requires specific methodological approaches, principles and criteria, as well as certain initial information.

Effects of climate change

In the territory of the CAR, taking into account the identified climatic trends, the reduction of river flow resources is possible in the future. In connection with the projected decrease in available water resources, there may be noticeable changes in the size and structure of water consumption and it may be possible to strengthen the contradictions between individual water users.

Water Resources Management: structure and functions

In the context of increasing water problems in the CAR, the functions, principles and mechanisms of water resources management are changing significantly. The new water paradigm combines “resource management” with “demand management” for water through water conservation and improved water efficiency. Priorities in the use of water resources are shifting in favor of society and environment in relation to manufacture. Environmental aspects of management are implemented through meeting the water requirements of ecosystems and preventing the harmful effects of water.

The main tool for the choice of further ways of development of water management systems of the CAR is the creation of geospatial information systems and development of a set of mathematical models, which will be an effective means of improving the efficiency and reliability of decision-making on water resources management.

Water Security of the Republic of Kazakhstan: problems and solutions

Taking into account the aggravation of water problems in the world and the Central Asian region, as well as the special importance of water resources for the country, the Institute of Geography, with the support of the relevant authorities, developed a concept of water security, formulating a vision of solving the problem of water shortage in Kazakhstan.

According to the Water Security Concept of the Republic of Kazakhstan, water security is the state of protection of vital interests of society (human health, habitat, production) from water threats - water-conditioned natural and anthropogenic phenomena and processes, as well as properties of water bodies that can cause damage to society in certain conditions.

Water security of the Republic of Kazakhstan in conditions of limited and vulnerable water resources is considered as a component of national security, including public, economic and environmental security.

Ensuring water security includes identification of water threats of the Republic (including climatic, transboundary, water-resource, water management, water- ecological threats), cardinal ways of solving the problem of water shortage, the action program for sustainable water supply of the economy, social sphere and ecology with the definition of target indicators, strategic directions and system tasks.

Water threats of the Republic of Kazakhstan

Threats of climate change. The territory of Kazakhstan is expected to further increase the surface air temperature in all months of the year by 0.8-1.2°C, as well as to change in the average annual rainfall by 1-3% by 2035. Evaporation on river catchment areas with a decrease in the inflow of water into rivers and falling levels of the Aral and Caspian seas, the growth of household demand for water resources, including increased rates of irrigation of crops are also expected.

Transboundary water resource threats. Due to the unfavorable geographical position in the lower reaches of transboundary basins, the Republic of Kazakhstan is largely dependent on water management activities in the neighbouring countries of China, Uzbekistan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia. Reduction of the volume, change of the regime and deterioration of the quality of transboundary water flow are expected in connection with the projected population growth in the CAR states.

Threat of groundwater intake. With the development of all proven groundwater resources, there will be a reduction in river fans.

Threat of reduction in the resources of river flow. With the implementation of climate and transboundary hydrological threats in the future by 2030, it is possible to reduce the resources of river flow in Kazakhstan as a whole.

Hydroeconomic threats. Hydroeconomic threats of the Republic of Kazakhstan are associated with the application of waterconsuming technologies in economic sectors and imperfection of technical means of water regulation and water distribution.

Water environmental threats. There is a real threat of new zones of ecological instability in a number of river basins of Kazakhstan, including those manifested at crisis and catastrophic levels in the Ile- Balkash, Zhaiyk-Caspian and Aral-Syr Darya basins.

Due to the reduction of the transboundary flow of the Ile river, lake Balkash may repeat the fate of the Aral sea.

Threat of water shortage. Water resources shortage is expected in the Republic as a whole even under conditions of intensification of water use in production sectors.

Two ways (two groups) of measures for elimination of water shortage in the Republic are defined as follows: reducing the burden on water resources and increasing freshwater resources. The first group provides for the implementation of measures to reduce the consumption of fresh water. The second group implies an increase in available water resources for use by: improvement of interstate water allocation; regulation of river flow; use of underground fresh water reserves; desalination of salty and brackish waters.

Water Resources Management: goal system

General goal: sustainable water supply of natural and economic systems of Kazakhstan

Goal 1: Management of the “resource” - increase of water supply of natural and economic systems of Kazakhstan,

Goal 2: Management of the “demand” - increase of efficiency of used water in natural and economic systems of Kazakhstan

Goal 3: Improvement of administrative and organizational system of water resources management.

Improvement of administrative and organizational system of water resources management:

  • Increasing water availability in Kazakhstan
  • Compensation of anthropogenic and climatic reduction of water resources.
  • Improvement of the efficiency of water use
  • Sustainable water supply of population and production, conservation and restoration of water bodies.
  • Improvement of water resources management system
  • Increasing the level of validity and efficiency of state decisions in the field of water resources management.

Innovative program of action

The strategy development is based on the method of system analysis, which considers the object of research - water supply systems of the Republic of Kazakhstan (WSS RK) - as a complex system with its inherent properties of multidimensionality, uncertainty and conflict.

Methods and technologies of simulation dynamic-stochastic modeling of water balances in the basin and administrative sections on the calculated levels of development were used as a research tool of the WSS of the Republic of Kazakhstan.

The water security strategy (innovative development scenario) formulates a vision of solving the problems of water scarcity in Kazakhstan and aims to substantiate the principal long-term solutions in response to climate and transboundary water threats with the formation of a hierarchically organized system of goals, strategic directions, system tasks and key activities until 2050.

Interstate water allocation in transboundary basins

On the basis of the principles of international water law, the methodology of interstate water allocation in transboundary basins was developed taking into account the interests of Kazakhstan.

The Trans-Kazakhstan Canal (TKC) is a strategic priority for sustainable water supply in Kazakhstan

In Kazakhstan, the spatial unevenness of the distribution of river flow and water demand is sharply expressed. Up to half of Kazakhstan’s renewable water resources are formed in the Yertis basin. River basins of Central and Southern Kazakhstan are the most water-intensive. The transfer of part of the Yertis flow into the perspectively water-stressed basins shall contribute to solving national and regional problems of sustainable development.

Transit potential and development of the TKC

The transit potential of the TKC is to use part of the canal route to transfer part of the flow of Russian rivers in the direction of Ob- Amu Darya, as well as to form the shipping route Russia – Kazakhstan – Uzbekistan. “Astana branch” can become the primary link of development of the TKC.

Using the flow of Russian rivers in the direction of upstream of the Katun river will allow Russia to compensate for the reduction of the Yertis inflow due to the water intake of Kazakhstan, as well as to participate in the development of efficient hydropower resources on the transfer route.

A potential way of preserving the integrity of lake Balkash – a water body of special national importance – is to attract part of the flow of the Yertis river from the Buktyrma reservoir.

Infrastructure solutions have been developed for the conservation and restoration of Delta lakes by the construction of river waterworks simulating the natural regime of water exchange of wetlands with river flow.

Scenario analysis

Dynamic-stochastic modeling of water supply systems

The simulation dynamic-stochastic model of analysis and forecast of scenarios of water supply of natural and economical systems of Kazakhstan with identification of deficits and surpluses of water for estimated stages of development as a basis of development of actions for their balancing was elaborated.

Scenarios of water supply of the Republic of Kazakhstan

3 scenarios of water supply of the Republic of Kazakhstan have been developed: Inertial - assuming the implementation of existing trends in water use, fraught with deep shortages of fresh water, severe economic damage and violation of the natural environment; Water-saving - stabilizing economic water consumption, which does not exclude the possibility of forming a shortage of fresh water in terms of reducing transboundary runoff; Innovative – in addition to water conservation, compensating for the reduction of water resources by transboundary and inter-basin transfers of river flow, ensuring a balance of water use in all basin natural and economical systems of the Republic.

Proposals for regional cooperation

Area of cooperation:

  • in the political aspect - prevention and peaceful resolution of controversial issues of transboundary water cooperation;
  • in the economic aspect - mutually beneficial use of water resources of transboundary basins on the principles of integration;
  • in the environmental aspect - conservation of resource potential and environmental sustainability of water systems of transboundary basins;
  • in the social aspect - strengthening and development of mutually beneficial regional cooperation on scientific, technical, organizational and investment aspects of the water sector of Central Asia.

Areas of joint research

In order to achieve the sustainable development goals and objectives of the CAR countries, it is necessary to consolidate the existing scientific, technical and production potential, to interact with scientific communities at the national and international levels and to strengthen capacity and increase awareness in conducting new and continuing research in the following areas:

  • Development of new technologies, methods, models for assessing and forecasting the quantity and quality of water resources, as well as demand for water to make effective management decisions in the context of climate change and economic activity.
  • Development and implementation of the principles of integrated water resources management, taking into account the best international experience, ensuring reliable and safe operation and development of water management systems, taking into account the development of economic sectors and environmental protection.
  • Development and implementation of geoinformation technologies and methods of optimization and simulation modeling of functioning and development of water management complexes as an effective tool of scientific research, design development and operational management of water resources.
Year: 2019
City: Almaty