31.01.2024, 10:10 82931

Irrigated areas in Kazakhstan to expand to 2.5 mln ha by 2030

Irrigated areas in Kazakhstan to expand to 2.5 mln ha by 2030
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The concept of water resources management system development for 2024-2030 was presented at the Government session by the Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Nurzhan Nurzhigitov, primeminister.kz reports.

The head of the ministry noted that the situation in the water sector of the economy requires cardinal improvement of the state water policy and management of the sector. It is necessary to revise the existing structure of delimitation of functions of water sector entities and develop new mechanisms of economic relations. Taking into account the analysis of the current situation, international experience and vision of this system development, the draft Concept defines 7 approaches. First of all, measures on modernization and development of water infrastructure are envisaged.

To ensure water security of the country and reduce water deficit, a number of urgent measures are envisaged for construction of 20 and reconstruction of 15 reservoirs, modernization of more than 14 thousand km of irrigation canals and reconstruction of hydraulic structures. Implementation of the planned approaches will allow increasing the area of irrigated lands up to 2.5 million hectares by 2030. For this purpose it is necessary to reduce unproductive water losses during transportation from 50% to 25%, to increase available water resources by 2.4 cubic kilometers, as well as to improve the condition of hydraulic structures for guaranteed water supply to sectors of the economy and reduce the threat of emergencies," Nurzhigitov said.

According to him, the rational use of available water resources will allow to switch to the so-called "demand management", the main principle of which is to use the increased needs of sectors of the economy without increasing the volume of water withdrawal. The Minister noted that given the threat of reduced inflow along transboundary rivers, as well as the presence of large losses in irrigation canals, in Kazakhstan it is necessary to carry out joint and comprehensive work on the introduction of water-saving technologies by farmers.

Today, out of 1.9 million hectares of irrigated land, they are applied only on 16%, which is extremely unacceptable in the current realities. In order to stimulate farmers to apply water-saving technologies, we together with the Ministry of Agriculture have started work on increasing the share of subsidizing costs for the creation of irrigation systems and purchase of drip and sprinkler irrigation equipment from 50% to 80%. This will contribute to bringing the area of irrigated land with the use of water-saving technologies to 1.3 million hectares by 2030," the Minister emphasized.

According to estimates of the Kazakhstan Research Institute of Water Management, this measure will save about 2.1 cubic kilometers of water and increase yields of agricultural products in 1.5 - 2 times. It was noted that today there is a negative trend of increasing specific water consumption norms related to climate change, which affects the increase of water consumption norms for agricultural crops. In order to maintain the volume of water resources at an ecologically and economically optimal level, measures will be taken to develop a list of the best available technologies in the field of protection and use of the water fund. Development of new mechanisms for setting water use limits and plans for transition of organizations to recycled and repeated water supply is envisaged.

The Head of State noted the development of a balanced water policy aimed, inter alia, at qualitative analysis and forecasting of water resources. In order to develop the system of accounting and forecasting of the country's water-resource potential, improve information systems for water resources management and planning, the Concept provides for the establishment of an information and analytical center for water resources under the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation," the head of the agency said.

Digitalization of the water sector is an important issue that requires urgent measures, the Minister stressed. The country is finalizing work on the creation of a digital platform hydro.gov.kz, where a unified water cadastre with spatial data display of water bodies, hydraulic structures, water basins and sites, gauging stations and other objects will be formed. The system is planned to be put into commercial operation in the third quarter of this year. It is emphasized that the Concept provides for digitalization of more than 3.5 thousand km of canals and automation of water accounting of irrigation systems.

We are all aware of such environmental problems as shallowing of rivers, decrease in the level of lakes, as well as the Aral and Caspian Seas due to climate change and anthropogenic activities. Therefore, it is important to preserve and restore natural water bodies by implementing effective measures such as preservation of the Kokaral Dam and restoration of river deltas. At the same time, methodological guidelines will be developed for the rehabilitation of small rivers, conservation releases, craning and liquidation of ownerless self-injected hydrogeological wells," he noted.

It is also envisaged to improve ameliorative condition of irrigated lands for rational use of water resources. The networks of observation wells not covered by hydrogeological observations of groundwater level-salt regime on irrigated lands will be expanded. In general, by 2030, it is expected to reduce the level of pressure on water resources in the Aral-Syrdarya water basin from 57.2% to 53.2% and reduce the level of pressure in the Shu-Talas water basin from 56.8% to 52.8%.

Due to geographical peculiarities, seven out of eight water management basins of Kazakhstan are transboundary, due to which our country is largely dependent on the water policy of neighboring countries. In this respect, the Aral-Syrdarya, Zhaiyk-Caspian, Shu-Talas, Balkhash-Alakol water basins are the most vulnerable, while the Tobyl-Torgai and Ertys water basins are the least vulnerable.

According to the Institute of Geography and Water Security, the average annual river flow in Kazakhstan decreased by 12.5 cubic kilometers compared to 1960. Of these, 9 cubic kilometers, or 72% of the total reduction, fall to the share of local rivers, while transboundary rivers account for 3.5 cubic kilometers or 28%.

Taking into account the possible trend of flow reduction until 2030, the development of transboundary cooperation should become one of the key aspects of the state policy in the sphere of water relations. Its further development requires creation of new and improvement of existing bilateral and multilateral treaty base on joint use and protection of transboundary watercourses with neighboring states.

In order to develop interstate water relations, the Concept provides for the signing of agreements between the Governments of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan on joint management and use of transboundary water bodies, as well as between Kazakhstan and China on water allocation on transboundary rivers.

An important component of international cooperation is the development of a mechanism for water and energy cooperation in Central Asia. It is also envisaged to strengthen the competence of the participants of negotiating groups on the use and protection of transboundary water bodies, including through the establishment of a special department.

The draft law "On ratification of the Convention on the Right of Non-navigational Uses of International Watercourses" was considered in the Majilis and submitted to the Senate for consideration. The Convention is a global legal mechanism to promote equitable and sustainable management of transboundary rivers, lakes and associated groundwater around the world. Currently, 37 countries are parties to the agreement, with Uzbekistan being one of the countries bordering Kazakhstan.

In his speech, Nurzhan Nurzhigitov also noted that today the legal framework of the water sector does not meet the current realities, demands of society and the state. The draft of the new Water Code is under consideration in the Majilis of the Parliament of the Republic of Kazakhstan. In addition, in accordance with modern legal, economic and environmental relations in the country it is envisaged to update basin schemes of integrated use and protection of water resources.

In addition, measures on eradication of "black market" of water will be strengthened, including through toughening of responsibility for violations of water legislation at the legislative level. It is also planned to update the aggregated norms of water consumption and water disposal to encourage efficient consumption by individuals and enterprises.

In fulfillment of the instruction of the Head of State, the Ministry established a non-profit joint stock company "Kazakh Research Institute of the Caspian Sea" by the Government decree. In order to improve the management system of water management facilities, the work on unification of the republican state enterprise "Nurinsk group water pipeline" with "Kazvodkhoz" continues, the relevant draft resolution was considered at the Government session. Also, the work on creation of the National Hydrogeological Service is underway in the republic.

The deficit of qualified personnel and young specialists is observed at all levels of water resources management in Kazakhstan. Training of personnel for the water sector is carried out in seven universities, graduating bachelors within the groups of educational programs "Hydromelioration", "Hydraulic Engineering Construction and Water Resources Management", "Water Supply and Drainage" and "Water Resources and Water Use". Starting from this year, the Ministry plans to conclude memorandums of cooperation with higher education institutions with the possibility for students to undergo professional practice directly at production in subordinate organizations, with further employment.

Also this year, about 450 specialists of water management organizations will take advanced training courses at specialized centers.

Rules for professional development of water sector specialists have been developed. A sectoral council for professional qualifications in the field of use and protection of the water fund, water supply, drainage and irrigation has been established under the Ministry. Its regulations and work plan for updating professional standards have been approved. On their basis, educational training programs for water sector specialists will be updated," the Minister said.

The main goal of the Concept should be to solve the problems of conservation and rational use of water resources in the country, to meet the needs of economic sectors and the environment. Implementation will be carried out in accordance with the action plan, which envisages 60 measures. It is expected that all this will allow to accumulate and save up to 10 cubic kilometers of water and expand the area of irrigated lands up to 2.5 million hectares by 2030, Nurzhigitov summarized.

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