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Tajiks Warn Of Low River Levels, Less Water For Neighbors


Gathering to collect water in Tajikistan's Khatlon region (2010 photo)

Gathering to collect water in Tajikistan's Khatlon region (2010 photo)

DUSHANBE -- Tajik authorities are warning that there is less snow to fill the country's main rivers and that could mean less water for Tajikistan and water-dependent neighbors Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan, RFE/RL's Tajik Service reports.

Saidahmad Dustov, deputy head of Tajikistan's Hydrological Agency, told RFE/RL on March 29 that the observation of mountain snow from airplanes showed that "snow reserves and precipitation in [certain] regions are significantly lower than in previous years."

Dustov said Hydrology Agency officials have finished observing the flow formations of the southern Kizilsu, Yakhsu, and Obikhingoy rivers, which are part of the Aral Sea basin. He said their work showed there was 35 percent less snow to source those rivers, which are the main tributaries of the Vaksh River, which feeds the Amu Darya -- the main source of irrigation water for downstream countries Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan.

Dustov said "we also observed the source for Obikhingoy and found out that if the snow thickness in this region was 60 or more centimeters in previous years, this year it is [between] 20 and 30 centimeters thick."

He said there was particularly low snowfall in December and if the precipitation in the spring months is lower than normal, Tajik farmers will not have enough water to irrigate their crops.

But Dustov said he hopes a strong spring precipitation will help remedy the situation.

He said the Hydrological Agency sent the results of its observations to the Tajik government and recommended an economical regime be instituted to save water.

A lack of water forced Tajikistan's main hydropower plant, Nurek, to ration electricity this spring, an unusual occurrence for this time of the year.

Tajik authorities said in late February that the intake at the giant Nurek reservoir had fallen some 38 percent from the average in recent years.

About half of Central Asia's water yield originates in Tajikistan.
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