PAVLODAR – A proposal to build a new channel from the Irtysh River to the Yessil River through the capital was presented to Parliament in October by Minister of Environment Protection Nurlan Kapparov, who said it is currently being reviewed in the Government as one of the options to meet the growing demand for water in the region around the capital.
“If we build this channel, we will increase the volume of water, supplying one billion cubic metres a year,” the minister said. “Three lakes can be created along the new channel. In particular, the capacity of the Sofiyevsk Reservoir, which is planned to be constructed near the capital, will be two billion cubic metres. This will form a new recreational area near Astana and provide water to 30 villages. The length of the canal is 340 kilometres and the total cost of the project is 500 billion tenge ($3.3 billion). The irrigated area along the new channel can be increased by 100,000 hectares.”
The project has aroused heated debate in the public and media. Some supporters approve of the initiative, whose concern is serving vast water-thirsty areas of the country. Opponents fear the Irtysh River will be severely depleted as its waters are already diverted for domestic uses and by China.
Specialists who have looked at the proposal also recommend using the Satpayev channel or the water of the Schulbinsk regulating reservoir to supply water to the capital.
The project announced by the minister is just in the proposal stage and has not been vetted by the required agencies nor has its likely environmental impacts been assessed.