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Partnerships for enhanced engagement in research (PEER)
Cycle 4 (2015 Deadline)

Risk management and risk assessment of water resources of the Amu Darya river basin under conditions of climate change and construction of large reservoirs

PI: Inom Normatov (inomnor@mail.ru), Institute of Water Problems, Hydropower, and Ecology of the Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Tajikistan
U.S. Partner: Mary Brodzik, University of Colorado at Boulder
Project Dates: December 1, 2015 - November 30, 2018

Project Overview

Central Asia is one of the most active regions in terms of demographic change, with annual population growth rates of 1.5-2%. Today more than 64 million people live in the region, and future population growth will likely lead to water consumption growth as well. According to some calculations, by 2030 water consumption in Central Asia will increase by 15–20% over present levels. In addition, resources from natural drainage in the Aral Sea basin have been greatly reduced, and water deficiency is an increasing problem, with water demand now reaching 100-110% of capacity in the Amudarya river basin. Despite the water shortages in the lower basins, additional reservoirs continue to be built and plans implemented for irrigation expansion. Continuation of such alarming scenarios has very serious consequences for ensuring water security in the region, and this calls for urgent measures to adapt to significant climate changes and promote efficient water resource management in the region.

About 60% of the water that potentially flows to the lower Aral Basin originates in the high mountains of Tajikistan. Existing dams like Nurek and those under construction like Rogun control and regulate the annual flow regime. The demand for winter hydropower generation in the upstream countries where the dams are located conflicts with the summer demand for irrigation in the downstream parts of the basin. In addition, the actually available water resources are less than those stated in official negotiations due to siltation and reduced storage capacities, and summer runoff generation has been affected by glacier shrinkage, a process that not yet been taken into account. To ensure sustainable water management, we need reliable information on present and future water resources and their evolution in relation to human activities, global change, and climate evolution affecting the hydrological and melting regime of the Amu Darya’s main tributaries. It is important to know not only what the supply will be but also what the real needs are, such as actual irrigation requirements. For good planning, verifiable data are essential instead of perceived demand based on unreliable historical data, previous designs, and erroneous information. This project is designed to provide a clear picture of available water resources and to predict the changes likely to occur into the future. This will provide the riparian states with the essential information for effective water resource planning at the basin level. Achieving a more realistic allocation of water and better integrating knowledge about carrying capacity and adaptation of water consumption given environmental water needs is crucial to environmentally sustainable development in the region.

Summary of Recent Activities

During the reporting period, the PEER team carried out research to study the influence of the Nurek reservoir on the meteorological conditions of coastal agricultural areas. For this purpose, three coastal areas to the Nurek reservoir-Fayzabad, Yavan and Dangara, were selected.

The data (temperatures, precipitation and humidity) from three meteorological stations in the corresponding research districts for the period 1950-2017 were collected. To determine the influence of the Nurek reservoir, the research team considered the trend of the meteorological parameters (temperature, precipitation and humidity) of the three districts before the construction of the reservoir (1950- 1979) and after the erection of the reservoir (1980-2017). Comparison of the temperature variations before the construction of the Nurek reservoir shows various trends of temperature increase in the three districts.

In the next few months, the research team will conduct an expedition in the upper reaches of the Vakhsh River. The PI and his colleagues also plans to organize and host an international conference in Dushanbe.


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