The evolution of bilateral agreements in the face of changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin
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The evolution of bilateral agreements in the face of changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin By Dr. Andriy Demydenko Project Manager, Chu-Talas pilot project Summary of the keynote at International Conference “WATER: a Catalyst for Peace”.

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The evolution of bilateral agreements in the face of changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin

By Dr. Andriy Demydenko

Project Manager, Chu-Talas pilot project

Summary of the keynote at

International Conference “WATER: a Catalyst for Peace”.

Alternative approaches for the management of shared water resources, Zaragoza, Spain, 6-8 October 2004


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Transboundary water cooperation in the former USSR changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin


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Определение ИУВР changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin


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Aral Sea basin changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin


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High demand for water changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin


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Shrinking Aral Sea changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin


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Other issues changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin

The high demand for water in the Aral Sea basin is not the only problem the region is facing. There are other issues that make finding sustainable solutions very challenging. The region has also relevance for the rest of the world: today’s problems of the Aral Sea Basin might become tomorrow’s problems of the world.


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Population growth changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin

The population is growing very rapidly despite of an uncertain future. In some states, population will double in the coming 25 years and will put high demands on food production and water.


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Climate change changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin

Climate change is widely accepted. Unclear is if this process will lead to more or less available water. In the short term there is the possibility that snow melt will increase and therefore more water will be available. In the long term however it might lead to less water.

Hydropower

Water is not only used for irrigation but also for electricity generation. Demand for electricity is the highest during the winter season. The water reservoirs need to be full by that time. As a consequence, water has to be stored during summer, when demand for irrigation water is the highest. These are conflicting interests!


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Political setting changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basin

Demands and availability of water in the five states are different and change over time. As water is scarce, this generates political friction, which is fed by other issues like territorial disputes.

Salinization

All water contains a little salt. Irrigated land will evaporate part of the water, leaving behind the salt. This salt will accumulate over the years, unless washed away, which requires a lot of water. This mineralization process became increasingly serious during last few years: land productivity is decreasing by 5-6% annually.


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Regional water management practices changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basinbefore independence

  • USSR Water Ministry centralised allocation

  • Basin organisations were set up toexecute the regulations and schedules agreed by the republics and approved by the USSR Water Ministry.

  • In 1986 two basin organizations were created for the two main rivers: Amu Darya and Syr Darya.

  • 1110 basin organisations were responsible for all the head gates on the rivers and its main tributaries with a discharge of more than 10 cu.m/sec, financedby the USSR Water Ministry.


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Regional water management practices changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basinbeforeindependence (continued)

  • Twice a year, based on hydromet forecasts, the basin organisations were to submit to the USSR Water Ministry an annual plan including schedules of release and supply from the reservoirs within their respective watersheds.

  • Each republic received its share of water in accordance with quotas approved by the USSR state Planning Committee.


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Regional water management practices changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basinbeforeindependence (continued)

  • Water allocation depended either on the irrigated surface area, or on the demand calculated for each crop per district.

  • Depending on the hydrological forecasts, basin organisations were able either to reduce, or to increase quotas for each country by no more than 10%.

  • The basin organisation did not monitor water quality, nor were responsible for water usage.

  • The Aral Sea and Aral region basically received what was “left on the plate”.


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Regional water management practices changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basinafter independence

  • With the independence it became necessary to set up a mechanism for regional cooperation in water resources management.

  • The first agreement dealt with «cooperation regarding joint management of water resources in interstate water bodies» and established the Interstate Coordination Water Commission (ICWC).


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Regional water management practices changing geo-politics in the Chu-Talas basinafter independence (continued)

  • ICWC:-five Central Asian states as members;-decision by consensus;-the two basin organisations became the executive

    bodies of ICWC;-the principles of allocation approved in the Soviet

    period are retained until new regional and national

    water management strategies are developed and

    approved.

  • Moreover, a special regional organisation, « International Fund for saving the Aral Sea » (IFAS), was established under the joint leadership of the five presidents.



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Regional water management practices Institutionsafter independence: drawbacks of the existing legal framework

  • Most existing water related agreements provide just an outline of general approaches, without detailed procedures for their implementation.

  • The upstream countries are concerned that in the regional co-operation framework, the saving of the Aral Sea is prevailing over the national economic interests of the individual countries.


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D Institutionsrawbacks of the existing legal framework:upstream countries concerns

  • There are different opinions regarding the long-term projections of water demand - it is argued that agreements do not adequately take into account the dynamics of population growth,which will result in an increase of water consumption to meet potable, agricultural, industrial and other needs.


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D Institutionsrawbacks of the existing legal framework:upstream countries concerns

  • The “Soviet” water sharing system allocated water resources asymmetrically to favor irrigation farming in the downstream countries.

  • The territories of the upstream countries were used for the construction of water regulating facilities to supply water to the lower reaches.


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D Institutionsrawbacks of the existing legal framework:upstream countries concerns

  • Irrigation farming in the upstream countries was reduced to a minimum - in compensation, they got energy carriers, agricultural and industrial products.

  • After the emergence of the sovereign countries in Central Asia, the former principles of water allocation were maintained, yet the upstream countries were deprived of all the compensations.


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D Institutionsrawbacks of the existing legal framework:upstream countries concerns

  • Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan believe that the current regional water allocation system is inequitable and causes them serious harm as it does not make it possible for them to,firstly, develop irrigation farming to satisfy their food requirements and, secondly, use the hydropower station cascades in an optimal mode to cover winter requirements for electricity.


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D Institutionsrawbacks of the existing legal framework

  • Among the most precarious issues to be debated is the problem of defining the ownership rights of each country with regard to the water resources and water bodies in the respective territories.

  • Another contradiction is the adoption of a Kyrgyz law (2001), which proclaimsthatthe foreign policy of Kyrgyzstan towards water related issuesis based on the principle of paid use.


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D Institutionsrawbacks of the existing legal framework

  • Repeated declarations by heads of Central Asian States to develop mutually advantageous regional cooperation in the use and protection of water resourceshave not produced tangible results.

  • Main reason – the existing legal basis for cooperation primarily consists of agreements which do not cover the entire range of relevant issues, and fail to offer detailed procedures for the preparation and adoption of decisions and joint follow-up on commitments assumed by countries.


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From multilateral to bilateral cooperation Institutions

  • There are different views in the region regarding further development of the organisational forms of long-term cooperation.

  • There is growing concern that effective transboundary cooperation is more probable if it is organized on bilateral rather than on multilateral basis


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From multilateral to bilateral cooperation Institutions

  • A good example of effective bilateral cooperation takes place between Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan. They share two relatively small rivers, Chu and Talas, which are purely transboundary for these two countries.

  • Chu-Talas case is rather simple but could provide an example for the rest of the Aral Sea basin, as key problems are similar.


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Talas Catchment Hydrometric Network Institutions

Kyrgyz Hydro Post Station, River and Name

  • Talas – Ak Tash

  • Talas – 2.6km downstream of inflow of Koshoi

  • Talas – Klouchevka

  • Koshoi – Kara Oi

  • Besh Tash – head of River Saz

  • Urmaral – Oktyabrskoe

  • Kumushtag – head of River Yangi

  • Bakiyan spring – Bakiyan

  • Beysheke –

  • Kara Bura – Koksai gorge

  • Kirovskie spring – mouth

  • Chimkent spring – mouth

  • Kukuryesu - Chonkurchan

6

5

4

Kazakh Hydro Post Station, River and Name

  • Talas – Pakrovka

  • Talas – Solnichni

  • Talas – H/P No 5 - Talas Dam

  • Talas - Temirbet (Dam)

  • Talas – Jambet

  • Talas – Uyuk

    Hydropost with Ecology Post for Water Quality Measurements

    Ecologic post not attached to Hydropost

3

2

1

2

Manas Rayon

Talas

1

Kirov

4

3

Taraz

12

8

Talas Rayon

6

9

7

11

5

Kazakhstan

Kara - Bura Rayon

Bakai-Ata Rayon

13

10

Rivers

Talaskii Canal

Kirov Reservoir

Kaz. / Kyg Border

Kyrgyz Republic


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • The Talas river is a small river in Central Asia streaming down the north-west slope of Tyan Shan. Length - 660 km (440 km - in Kazakhstan)

  • Total area of the catchment - 52,7 thousand km2 (21,7% located in Kyrgyzstan and 78,3% – in Kazakhstan)

  • Water is diverted along the whole course of the river, mainly for irrigation (more than 90%).


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • Within Kyrgyzstan but close to the border with Kazakhstan, lies the Kirov Reservoir, the only structure that can be used to regulate the river flows.

  • In years of average water availability, all wateris allocated between the users and diverted from the river.


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • Most of the upstream catchment lies above 2 000 metres elevation. The river is mainly supplied by glaciers and snow pack areas especially from the southern high mountainous zone, which almost reaches 4 000 m. A portion of the total flow comes from direct rainfall runoff, particularly during the spring months March and April and in autumn.

  • Climatic indicators are: a long winter period; a relatively high yearly precipitation of 400-500 mm; high flows from April until July from snow and glacier melt; and a relatively short hot period with high evaporation from May till September, the period when irrigation is necessary.


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • The totally irrigated area in the Kyrgyz part of the basin is 114 900 ha.

  • Almost all plain areas, especially on the southern banks of the valley, are densely irrigated.

  • Main crops in the upstream Talas catchment are wheat, maize, potatoes and vegetables.

  • There are no extensive useable groundwater deposits.

  • Despite this, shallow groundwater is used for individual drinking water supply systems.


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • The population of the upstream catchment numbers about 200 000, mostly living in rural areas.

  • Brick production and industrial facilities for product processing from the Soviet period are no longer operating.

  • There are practically no sources of water pollution except municipal waste water discharges.

  • Little of the drinking water supply is from a central supply system; nevertheless the water quality of the drinking water is quite good.

  • Currently, the most important industrial development which may have an impact on the water use and pollution is a proposed Yerooy gold mine located at 3 000 m elevation in the catchment (currently the EIA is under preparation).


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • The downstream catchment is quite different, not only in the natural conditions but also in the land use pattern.

  • Land use is affected by a rapid increase of evaporation along the lower river course as the elevation drops.

  • Rainfall is reduced to 300 mm,while it is in the lowest reaches less than 250 mm.

  • The surface water remaining in the riverbed rapidly decreases towards the northwest.

  • The area downstream from Taraz (Jambul) city is predominantly characterized by dry steppe and, finally, by natural semi-desert.


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • Beyond Uyuk the water only fills the depressions of the undulating land and forms marshes. Particularly in high-water years, in this zone grass is watered by the natural flooding, supplemented by wild flood irrigation, and is extensively harvested for hay.

  • The zone is also important for waterfowls in spring (transit area only for feeding) and in summer time (breeding).


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • The few rural villages downstream of Taraz are small and suffering from an out-migration and deterioration of the houses and infrastructure.

  • The reasons for out-migration are:

    - current poor economic conditions in the area,

    especially in comparison with developments

    elsewhere in the country- combination of poor reliability of water supplies, poor

    land quality, and a relatively large distance from the

    centre, Taraz city, with its markets.


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • In comparison with the upstream catchment, the groundwater situation is quite different.

  • There are fresh groundwater deposits at 60 to 100 m depth which are used for the drinking water supply in Taraz city (population 300 000).

  • Groundwater in the upper horizons is of inferior quality .


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Description of the Talas basin Institutions

  • The total area of irrigated land is 62 000 ha downstream of Taraz city and an additional 16 600 ha between the city and Kyrgyz-Kazakh border.

  • Due to the limited water availability, the remaining river course further north (downstream) provides very little water for irrigation (while in earlier times, the total irrigated land in the Kazakh part of the basin was almost equal to the irrigated area in the Kyrgyz part).

  • The most important land use in this zone is for livestock.


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Проект InstitutionsTasic “ASREWAM Aral Sea 30560” “Поддержка регионального управления водными ресурсами и повышение потенциала бассейновых организаций для эффективного управления ресурсами”

Возделываемые земли (2003 г.)


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Проект InstitutionsTasic “ASREWAM Aral Sea 30560” “Поддержка регионального управления водными ресурсами и повышение потенциала бассейновых организаций для эффективного управления ресурсами”

Возделываемые + возделанные земли (2003 г.)

Возделываемые земли


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Status of the present legal and institutional framework Institutions

  • Water-sharing rules of 1983

  • Agreement in 2000 on the interstate use of water facilities: Kazakhstan is already paying for joint rehabilitation of hydro-technical facilities on Kyrgyz territory

  • Draft regulations on the commission

  • Water Codes: Kazakhstan (2003), Kyrgyzstan (Draft: now in Parliament)


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Kazakh-Kyrgyz Agreement of 2000 Institutions

Although the title of the Agreement only refers to the facilities, the list of tasks is much broader and clearly relates to the resource planning and management:

  • assess and forecast the state of water objects & regulate water use;

  • agree on parameters and annual limits for water use & drainage, cooperation in the financing of O&M, flood prevention;

  • agree on the operational regime of reservoirs and adjust schedules and limits, depending on water availability and user needs;

  • develop procedures for joint action in emergency situations (floods, other natural calamities);

  • organize exchange of hydrologic and other data & information;

  • agree on, and coordinate, water monitoring programmes, water accounting & infrastructure inventory, with a view to establishing a basin water monitoring and accounting system;

  • organize joint scientific studies on O&M and safety issues, and on regulation, rational use and protection of water resources.


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Main problem related to inter-state water management Institutions

  • Lack of a proper legal basis and formal institutional arrangement for the water sharing and joint river management.

  • Poor information systems on which to base water management decisions.

  • Lack of separation of responsibilities and formal procedures for managing reservoirs and floods.

  • Lack of future plans regarding joint responsibility for maintenance of water management structures. Though the principles of joint responsibility are accepted and cost sharing is agreed annually, formal mechanisms are weak.

  • No input from environmental concerns into the water planning processes, including planning for protection against upstream accidents or controlling new polluting developments, and allocation of environmental flows to wetlands.


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Present issues of transboundary relevance Institutions

  • Many issues, but the most pressing are:

    • Water management issues that relate to planning and verification of diversions.

    • Water shares are based on the diversions from the river, which cannot be verified by the other party; information could be made available more timely and be better presented.


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Water management issues Institutions

  • Forecasts of water resources are hampered by run-down monitoring networks but also by the institutional set-up.

  • The Kirov reservoir management should be improved: water discharges do not correspond to the agreed figures.


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Availability of water resources Institutions

  • Resource deficiency will be increased due to restoration and further development of the main water consuming sectors of the economy, and the social needs of the growing population.

  • In high water years, Kazakhstan does not use completely its quota (partly to ensure environmental downstream flows) due to a decrease of water demand for irrigation purposes.


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Availability of water resources (continued) Institutions

  • Possibilities for extensive development have already been exhausted over the whole basin (all water is already used).

  • In Kyrgyzstan – no increase in irrigated land

  • As to Kazakhstan’s part, a planned growth of production in the agricultural sector should be ensured largely by better water use (more crop per drop). Otherwise, planned extension of irrigated area will need an increase of water intake exceeding the whole river annual run-off.


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50/50 water sharing problems Institutions

  • Politically the arrangement appears to be satisfactory from the perspective of both nations

  • However, problems arise in transparency, technical capability and methodological approaches used to determine water availability and therefore apportionment on an annual basis.


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50/50 water sharing problems Institutions

  • Facilities are actually used 80/20 or 20/80. Why rehabilitation costs are shared 50/50?

  • If water is shared, the problem of providing enough water to other users (such as environmental flows to the downstream wetlands) becomes purely national problem and should be provided from national quota.


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Does the legal framework address the issues? Institutions

  • The Agreement is narrow in scope

    • focus on defined infrastructure, but not on ancillary installations and not on water use itself

    • No focus on water quality

  • Present institutional arrangements for interstate cooperation work, but informally

    • only for water-sharing (1983 Rules)

    • for matters relating to infrastructure


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Towards IWRM needs Institutions

  • Availability of data and information

    • on water resources (flows, levels, etc.)

    • on water quality

    • on water uses

    • on pollution sources

  • Capacity to plan the basins’ water resources

    • management measures (quantity & quality)

    • common works

  • Workable institutional arrangements


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The draft regulations of the Commission Institutions

  • Expand the focus of the 2000 Agreement

  • Commission vested with broader powers, including planning and water quality

  • High level membership

  • Headquarters, financial issues and links with existing institutions to be defined


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How to make it workable? Institutions

  • Not only a high level commission, but also practical institutional arrangements at the basin level are required to provide the information needed by the Commission and to act on its decisions

  • Further development of the concept of shared responsibility including financing and common investment planning

  • Improvement of water management procedures

  • Improvement of verifyable monitoring


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Focus of ASREWAM Institutions

  • Identification of legal, institutional, practical objectives

  • Proposals for improved forecasting, monitoring and information handling: physical and institutional, including inter-state relationships

  • Identification of potential development options and national or shared costs

  • All brought together into a Joint Basin Strategy


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So, what? Institutions

Taking into account the ultimate goal of our conference, the question is:

  • How to make the water supply service in the Chu-Talas Basin economically and socially viable without undermining the sustainability of vital water ecosystems?

  • Or how to move from prevention of conflicts (equitable water sharing) to cooperation potential (sharing benefits of water use instead)?


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Prevention InstitutionsofConflict  Cooperation Potential


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Prevention InstitutionsofConflict  Cooperation Potential


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Prevention InstitutionsofConflict  Cooperation Potential


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