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Implementing The Water-food-energy Nexus In Central Asia - Challenges For Transboundary Catchments - The Example Of The Zarafshan River (tajikistan-uzbekistan)

Congress: 2015
Author(s): Michael Groll (Marburg, Germany), Christian Opp, Rashid Kulmatov, Inom Normatov, Alexander Bernardi
Philipps-Universität Marburg (Germany)1, National University of Uzbekistan (Uzbekistan)2, Tajik National University of Science and Technology (Tajikistan)3

Keyword(s): Sub-theme 12: Transboundary river basins and shared aquifers,
Water is the most valuable resource in Central Asia but decades of overexploitation caused widespread ecological and socioeconomic problems in the lower parts of many river catchments. The breakdown of the Soviet Union led to the formation of five sovereign states in Central Asia, but also disrupted the regional cooperation and management efforts. At present the management of the water resources is highly sectoral and transboundary cooperation nonexistent. As water is unevenly distributed and used among the countries, upstream-downstream tensions arise. During the next decades, these tensions will intensify as the region is characterized by a strong socioeconomic growth and heavily impacted by the climate change. The rapidly shrinking glaciers in the region could lead to a reduction of the available water resources by 30% in 2030 while the water demand could increase by 30%. This will further aggravate the pressure on the resource and increase the water deficit. Adapting to these conditions is only possible if the sectoral and national view is replaced by an integrated management paradigm. One concept exceptionally well suited for this is the Water-Food-Energy Nexus, which acknowledges the manifold interdependencies between different water users in a system with limited resources. In order to develop such an integrated management system, a sound data base about the status quo and possible future scenarios is needed. Unfortunately the breakdown of the Soviet Union also led to the fragmentation and deterioration of the regional hydrometeorological monitoring network, so that data about the glacier development, river discharge dynamic, water quality parameter or water use patterns is not available area-wide or continuously.
The study presented here closes this knowledge gap for the transboundary Zarafshan River, which shares many characteristics with other Central Asian rivers (hydropower potential, upstream mining activities and intensive irrigation farming in the arid lowlands) and is thus well suited as a model catchment for the whole region. This unique analysis of the water resources, their usage and potential future developments can be crucial for understanding the complexity of the Water-Food-Energy Nexus and for developing an IWRM concept in the region.

The findings presented here are based on own field measurements, laboratory data from the Uzbek hydrometeorological service, glacier data from the Tajik Academy of Sciences, discharge and irrigation data from the SIC ICWC and the SANIIRI, long-term meteorological data from the RWSA (Russia's Weather Server Archive) and the NEESPI (Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative), discharge data from the NEESPI and the GRDD (Global River Discharge Database) as well as an extensive literature analysis. The collected data cover the status quo of the hydro-meteorological characteristics of the Zarafshan as well as relevant water quality parameters. All data was statistically analyzed and spatial and temporal dynamics were identified. Furthermore the data was integrated into a conceptual 1D-model for a first evaluation of future water resource scenarios.

Results and Discussion:
The maximum long-term average discharge of the Zarafshan River is 157.9 m³/s at the Tajik-Uzbek border (hydropost Ravathodja). Immediately downstream of this point 61.8% of the water are withdrawn throughout the year and channeled into an irrigation network of 3,140 km length. Additional water diversions downstream further deplete the water resources so that the average runoff at the hydropost Khatyrchi (200 km from the border) is 36.4 m³/s and another 180 km downstream, near Ghijduvan, the Zarafshan officially ceases to exist. At the same time the input of drainage water from the irrigated fields, collected through a canal network of 3,292 km length, is increasing from the Samarkand to the Navoi province, leading to a dramatic impairment of the water quality. The mineralization, as a parameter for the overall water quality, increases exponentially between the Tajik-Uzbek border (243.1 mg/l) and the official end of the river (1,799 mg/l), where the agricultural and the industrial waste water have a combined effect. The drainage water was identified as the main source of this pollution with an average mineralization of 2,235 mg/l. Similar increases along the Zarafshan were detected for Nitrate (4-10 mg/l at the border and up to 75 mg/l downstream of Navoi), Copper (0.002 mg/l to 2.35 mg/l), Chromate VI (0.5 mg/l to 1.5 mg/l) and Phenols (0 mg/l to 0.01 mg/l). Phosphate also showed increased concentrations in the Uzbek part (up to 100 mg/l), but the highest levels were detected in the Tajik catchment were erosion from the steep and hardly vegetated slopes led to concentrations of up to 250 mg/l.
National and international thresholds were exceeded for the mineralization, arsenic, copper, chromate, nitrate, phenols, and phosphate in most parts of the Uzbek catchment. This is especially alarming as the heavily polluted drainage water is returned to the river untreated or directly used for further irrigation downstream. This status quo will worsen during the next decades as the Zarafshan glacier is retreating at accelerated rates and could be reduced to 50% of its current size by 2050. The large number of smaller glaciers (<1 km²) in the upper catchment will be completely gone by then, which will negatively impact the discharge, especially with regard to the water availability during the main irrigation period in summer. Furthermore the socioeconomic scenarios show a rise of the water demand and thus overall an increase of the annual water deficit from currently 1.6 km³ to up to 5.8 km³. This also includes the possible implementation of up to 16 small and medium sized hydropower plants in the Tajik part of the catchment (43% of all planned Tajik projects) which would impair the seasonality of the discharge and the sediment regime of the Zarafshan.
As the annual deficit could surpass the water availability (currently 5.2 km³/year), the reuse of drainage and waste water will be intensified and water purification and saving technologies have to be utilized to cover the demand.

The analysis shows the dramatic impact the irrigation farming in the Uzbek part of the catchment has on both the water quality and availability for the downstream water users. The planned implementation of hydropower projects in the Tajik part of the catchment, the socioeconomic growth and the effects of the climate change will increase the annual water deficit during the next decades and require a new paradigm of transboundary cooperation and an integrated water-food-energy management. The results presented here visualize the main drivers of this nexus and can thus be an important step towards a sustainable resource management in Central Asia. 1. Aizen, V.B., Aizen, E.M., Joswiak, D.R., Fujita, K., Takeuchi, N. and Nikitin, S.A. (2006) Glacier changes in the central and northern Tien Shan during the last 140 years based on surface and remote-sensing data. Ann Glaciol 43, 202–213. 2. Barbone, L., Reva, A. and Zaidi, S. (2010) Tajikistan - key priorities for climate change adaptation. Worldbank policy research working paper, Vol. 5487. 3. Bichsel, C. (2011) Liquid challenges - contested water in Central Asia. Sustain Dev Law Policy 12(1), 24–30, 58–60. 4. Chub, V.E. (2002) Exchange of hydrologic data and information among Aral Sea Basin States. ADB (eds) Cooperation in shared water resources in Central Asia—past experiences and future challenges, workshop proceedings, Vol 26–28, 97–99. 5. Dukhovny, V.A. and de Schutter, J.L.G. (eds) (2011) Water in Central Asia - past, present, future. 6. Glazirin, G. (2009) Hydrometeorological monitoring system in Uzbekistan. Assess Snow Glacier Water Resour Asia 8, 65–83. 7. Groll, M., Opp, C., Kulmatov, R., Ikramova, M. and Normatov, I. (2013) Water quality, potential conflicts and solutions - an upstream–downstream analysis of the transnational Zarafshan River (Tajikistan, Uzbekistan). Environ Earth Sci. DOI 10.1007/s12665-013-2988-5. 8. Hagg, W., Braun, L.N., Kuhn, M. and Nesgaard, T.I. (2007) Modelling of hydrological response to climate change in glacierized Central Asian catchments. J Hydrol 332(1–2), 40–53. 9. Ikramova, I. (2005) Water conservation issues in the lower reaches of the Amudarya River and the ecological crisis. Central Asian water resources vol 4, 46–59. 10. Konovalov, V.G. and Agaltseva, N. (2005) Projected change of glaciers size and river runoff in the different scenarios of future climate. Exch Intellect Prop 4(8), 37–47. 11. Kulmatov, R.A. and Hoshimhodjaev, M. (1992) Spatial distribution and speciation of microelements in water of Zarafshon River. Water Resour 11, 103–114. 12. Lioubimtseva, E. and Henebry, G.M. (2009) Climate and environmental change in arid Central Asia—impacts, vulnerability, and adaptations. J Arid Environ 73, 963–977. 13. Marat, E. (2008) Central Asian states fail to cooperate on water management. Central Asia Cauc Anal 10(18), 19–20. 14. Olsson, O., Gassmann, M., Wegerich, K. and Bauer, M. (2010) Identification of the effective water availability from streamflows in the Zerafshan river basin, Central Asia. J Hydrol 390, 190–197. 15. Toderich, K.N., Tsukatani, T. and Mardonov, B.K. (2002) Water quality, cropping and small ruminants—a challenge for the future agriculture in dry areas of Uzbekistan. In: Discussion paper no. 553. Kyoto Institute of Economic Research. 16. UNDP (eds) (2007) Technical report on the Zarafshon River Basin. UNDP project report. 17. Wegerich, K., Olsson, O. and Froebrich, J. (2007) Reliving the past in a changed environment: hydropower ambitions, opportunities and constraints in Tajikistan. Energy Policy 35(7), 3815–3825.
2011 IWRA - International Water Resources Association - - Admin