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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 (, 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 2015 - May 2019

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

In the winter of 2019, the project team began finalizing the project deliverables in preparation for the end of the project. This meant the generalization of experimental and theoretical works for the content and writing of the book The impact of Climate Change on the Meteorological & Hydrological Condition and Water Quality of the Main Tributaries of the Amudarya Transboundary Rivers. The team also presented their results at the International Workshop on World Water Day and the International Decade for Action “Water for Sustainable Development 2018-2028” in Bishkek, 25-27 March 2019. These results were also presented at the Second Central Asian Conference on Climate Change organized by the Regional Environmental Centre for Central Asia (CAREC).

At the request of the Editorial Board of Publisher InTech, the team also submitted a book chapter entitled “Monitoring of Meteorological, Hydrological Conditions and Water Quality of the Main Tributaries of the Transboundary Amu Darya River.” The project results were also instrumental in the development of the educational programs “Hydrochemistry of the Rivers” and “Modeling of Hydrological Processes,” which are two courses for bachelor’s and master’s students of the Tajik National University.
Moving forward, the team will continue with the processing, generalization and systematization of data for the preparation of papers and their publication in periodic scientific journals.

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