To Those Indifferent to the Future of the Aral
32 hydropower stations are expected to be reconstructed and 42 others be built in Uzbekistan by 2025.
Dilshod Bazarov, member of the International Academy of Ecology and Life Safety Sciences, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Professor of the Hydraulic and Hydro-informatics Department at the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization of Agriculture, believes that Uzbekistan has its own unique approach to solving the problem of water deficit.
- Last week you participated in the academic seminar “How to save the Aral” as its coorganizer. What conclusion did the participants eventually come to with regard to the future of the Aral?
- Yes, we organized the abovementioned event together with the research center “Bilim Karvoni”, with scientists, young specialists, representatives of various international organizations and the public attending the discussions – in a word, all those who are indifferent to the future of the lake, which in the 1950s ranked fourth in size and volume of water among the world’s lakes.
I would like to note that the seminar was designated as a free communication platform. There were no pre-written scripts, the guests participating represented different professions. Each of them asked questions and expressed opinion precisely on the basis of their professional sphere.
In my view, very interesting was the presentation of the associate professor T.Sh.Majidov devoted to the past and present state of the Aral Sea, and forecasts for the future.
Concerning the conclusions on the prospects of the Aral crisis, I would like to note that our planet is a living organism. A person can get sick within a few minutes, and the treatment may take a long period of time. The same can be said about the ‘diseased’ part of the planet. The drying out of the Aral began, as I noted above, from the mid-1950s. This is another natural cycle (during the last millennium the Aral Sea has dried for the fourth time). The drying process accelerated the anthropogenic factor.
The seminar participants came to the conclusion that the Aral must be restored, but this will take some time.
- President Emomali Rahmon, following talks with Shavkat Mirziyoyev, said that Tajikistan will not leave Uzbekistan without water. But water deficit is a problem not only for Uzbekistan, it is a global problem and, probably, there are countries in the world where the issue of water saving has already been resolved. What do you think, whose experience would be useful for us to study?
- Yes, the issue of water supply has a specific character. Water allocation problems exist between the US and Mexico, China, India and Pakistan, Russia and China, Libya and Israel, between many countries in Africa and Asia.
By profession I am a hydraulic engineer, “Construction of hydroelectric power stations and river structures”, so with your permission I can answer from my professional point of view. I think, and maybe even believe in this, we have our own approach and our experience in addressing this problem. Uzbekistan has one of the most complicated irrigation and drainage systems in the world. We have a very powerful scientific school with authoritative scientists, a world-class higher education institution training highly qualified specialists for this branch with a highly equipped material and technical base. There is a production capacity and a very harmoniously developing youth able to successfully solve many of today’s problems. And most importantly, unlike many leaders of countries, the head of our state is a person with industrial experience in solving the problems of the water management complex. I believe that we, the specialists dealing with water issues, are very lucky. We have a person who acts as an example in solving water issues. His example of tolerance, integrity, consistency, efficiency, ability to see the distant future, the ability to feel the needs of ordinary people and put the interests of society much higher than his own deserves high respect. He listens and hears the aspirations of all segments of the population, is aware of the problems in all sectors, is ready to discuss them with the people in order to make fair decisions. This does not require proof, since every resident is a witness of positive transformations taking place in our country.
- Water conservation is the main principle of transition to integrated water resources management and the basis of rational water use. What do you think are the tasks in this direction today in Uzbekistan?
- Based on the experience of holding master classes at the Kazakh-German University on the masters program “Integrated Water Resources Management in Central Asia and Afghanistan”, I can say that in the issues of integrated water resources management, our country occupies a leading place among Central Asian nations, although, probably, even among the states of Middle Asia. Just in case, let me comment on the difference between the terms “Middle Asia” and “Central Asia”.
Central Asia comprises Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. Middle Asia, in addition to the above listed countries, encompasses also a part of Russian Federation, Iran, Afghanistan and a few other states of Asia. We are carrying out complex of works on the integrated (rational, mutually agreed, complex, consistent) management of water resources. In particular, improvement of the operational state of irrigation systems and edifices, the start of the reconstruction and construction of hydropower stations of various capacities under the scheme 32+42.
I think it is necessary to strengthen the work on improving the efficiency of irrigation systems; it is not a secret that the utility of many channels in the region is below 50%, which indicates about 50% on average of water loss for filtration, discharge, evaporation and surplus – a blank pass, etc.
In addition, it is essential to work out projects aimed at making profit by using water-saving technologies, changing crops that require less water for cultivation (by the way, which is already being done in Uzbekistan).
Besides, concepts aimed at saving the region’s water resources still have to transform into projects. Among them is the concept ‘Aspects of solving the problem of regulation of the upper course of the Amudarya River’ and “Concept for improving the environmental situation in the Aral Sea area with the formation of a supply Aidarkul”.
Several academic reports have already been made on them during international conferences in Tajikistan, Kazakhstan and the Russian Federation. They are also published in scientific journals of national, international and regional levels. Masters dissertations were written at the German-Kazakh University and the Peter the Great St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, their discussion was held during scientific sessions at the International Academy of Ecology and Life Safety Sciences.
The developed concepts can bring concrete benefits to increase the volume of water transported to the Aral Sea. To be sure, the concepts are expensive, but, as noted by my mentors – the great classics of channel hydraulics and hydrotechnical construction of the Russian scientific school, V.M. Lyatcher, A.M. Prudovsky, A.N. Militeev, I.S. Rumyantsev, D.V. Sterenlicht, A.G. Mishuev, T.G. Voynich-Sianozhentsky, B.M. Kizyaev and others: ‘We are not so rich as to choose cheap ways of solving problems’. Deeply thought out, sound designs and methods for addressing many issues of channel hydraulics and hydraulic engineering require serious material costs. As one of the authors of these concepts, I am sure it’s time to start implementing specific solutions to water management problems, not only here, but also in the region as a whole.
- The amount of water demand for each person is individual and can range from a minimum of 10-12 liters a day up to 70-100 liters. Experience has shown that the main cause of overuse of water is its irrational use. How can we address this issue?
- Yes you are right. We have many cases of irrational use of water resources. It seems that separate episodes are not rather significant, but as a result as a whole, the water discharge is very significant. For example, we cool down melons and watermelons by leaving an open water tap. The toilet bowl with a capacity of 9 liters is drained in one descent. Why not in three or six attempts? If we consider that in each apartment there are two or three bathrooms, how much can surplus expenditure be accumulated in one city and the region as a whole? This is a colossal unearmarked expenditure!
There is an old parable: young parents bring a newborn baby to the sage-educator and ask him to bring it up. He asks how old he is. The question takes parents by surprise and they say that the baby is 20 days old. The sage answers: it means you are late with bringing up the child for 20 days proper!
Therefore, we must educate the culture of using water in our children from birth and continue to do this throughout the life of a person. All the more so there is scores of information, including scientific and documentary films, about water problems in the world, military conflicts between countries over water. I can say that it is better to learn from other people’s mistakes than on your own.
Meeting of the editorial college of the OSCE international journal and the journal “Integrated Management of Water Resources in Central Asia”
Talks on cooperation agreement between The Tashkent Institute for Irrigation Engineers and Mechanization of Agriculture and the Moscow State University of Civil Engineering