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Central Asia’s Water

Via WaterWired, an interesting pointer towards a detailed report on Central Asian water recently published by UNDP’s Water Governance Facility at the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI).  As the article notes, water is a key issue in one of the most strategically important regions in the world in which Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan all claim various rights over the diminishing freshwater supplies:

Aral_map




One item jumped off page 15 – the reduction in average annual inflows to the Aral Sea over the past 30 years, due mostly to irrigation diversions from the two major rivers, the Syr Darya and Amu Darya:

Before 1960: 56 cubic kilometers/year
1961-1970:   43
1971-1980: 17
1981-1990:  4

Since one cubic kilometer is about 810,000 AF, the average annual inflows have dropped from over 45 MAF to about 3.2 MAF. It’s no wonder the Aral Sea has shrunk dramatically. The graphic below is from the Aral Sea Foundation:

0280-aralsea-chrono-EN
The northernmost remnant of the sea is being ‘rehabilitated’ by Kazakhstan, and is apparently on its way to becoming a fishery again.

The desiccation of the Aral Sea is one of the great environmental disasters of the 20th century. Even UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon agrees.  Oh, yes -  the irrigation diversions did make the Soviet Union self-sufficient in cotton…”



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