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
Other issues 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.
Population growth 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.
Climate change 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!
Political setting 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.
Regional water management practices before 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.
Regional water management practices beforeindependence (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.
Regional water management practices beforeindependence (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”.
Regional water management practices after 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).
Regional water management practices after 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.
Regional water management practices after 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.
Drawbacks 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.
Drawbacks 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.
Drawbacks 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.
Drawbacks 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.
Drawbacks 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.
Drawbacks 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.
From multilateral to bilateral cooperation • 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
From multilateral to bilateral cooperation • 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.
Talas Catchment Hydrometric Network 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
Description of the Talas basin • 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%).
Description of the Talas basin • 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.
Description of the Talas basin • 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.
Description of the Talas basin • 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.
Description of the Talas basin • 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).
Description of the Talas basin • 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.
Description of the Talas basin • 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).
Description of the Talas basin • 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.
Description of the Talas basin • 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 .
Description of the Talas basin • 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.
Проект Tasic “ASREWAM Aral Sea 30560” “Поддержка регионального управления водными ресурсами и повышение потенциала бассейновых организаций для эффективного управления ресурсами” Возделываемые земли (2003 г.)
Проект Tasic “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
Status of the present legal and institutional framework • 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)
Kazakh-Kyrgyz Agreement of 2000 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.
Main problem related to inter-state water management • 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.
Present issues of transboundary relevance • 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.
Water management issues • 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.
Availability of water resources • 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.
Availability of water resources (continued) • 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.