Kazakh PM Assesses Small Aral Sea Conservation Efforts

ASTANA — Kazakh Prime Minister Olzhas Bektenov assessed advancements in water-saving technologies and infrastructure development efforts to preserve and expand the Small Aral Sea during his visit to the Kyzylorda region on June 27.

Photo credit: primeminister.kz Click to see the map in full size. The map is designed by The Astana Times.

According to the Prime Minister’s press service, Bektenоv also inspected the progress of the Karazek reservoir construction and reviewed the pace of the reconstruction of the Kokarak dam.

Advancements in water-saving technologies

The region’s primary waterway, the Syrdarya River, has seen its average annual volume of collected water decrease from the projected 27 billion cubic meters to 18.9 billion cubic meters in 2022 due to low water content. However, measures to increase water inflow from six to 50 cubic meters per second have raised Northern Aral’s water volume to 21.4 billion cubic meters, with 1.5 billion cubic meters added since the beginning of this year.

The region’s socio-economic development and environmental situation, where 85% of settlements are located, and more than 93% of the population resides, depend on the Syrdarya River basin’s water supply.

In the Kyzylorda Region, of 286,000 hectares of irrigated land, 190,000 hectares are used for agricultural crops. This year, the rice cultivation area has been reduced by 6,000 hectares. Laser planning has helped reduce water consumption for rice field irrigation. Over the past decade, innovative technology has saved up to 20% of water and increased productivity by up to 30%.

Karazek reservoir and Kokaral dam projects

Bektenov also directed the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation to propose financing for the Karazek reservoir project, which will have a capacity of 775 million cubic meters. The reservoir aims to preserve water that would otherwise be discharged into the Great Aral Sea through the Kokaral dam. 

These measures will allow irrigation of 31,000 hectares of cultivated lands in the Kazalinsky district and 11,0000 hectares of hayfields and pastures along the riverbed during the growing season. The Karazek reservoir is one of nine water infrastructure projects prioritized in the country.

Bektenov was also briefed on plans to reconstruct the Kokaral dam, which is expected to be completed this year. This project will restore the damaged dam and channels to the sea through Lakes Karashalan and Tuschi. He emphasized that the government will continue collaborating with neighboring countries on effective water resource use, compliance with water intake limits, and managing the operation of the reservoir cascade in the Syrdarya and Amudarya basins.

Get The Astana Times stories sent directly to you! Sign up via the website or subscribe to our Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Telegram, YouTube and Tiktok!