REPORT OF THE REPUBLIC OF KAZAKHSTAN
Water and Millennium Development Goals
In terms of water availability, Kazakhstan is one of the most water scarce countries on the Eurasian continent.
Due to climate characteristics of the republic, up to 90% of the annual runoff in steppe rivers refers to spring, while 70% of the annual runoff in the mountainous rivers – to summer.
In normal year, water quantity of the republic is estimated to be 100,5 km3, whereas water available for economic uses amounts to only 43 km3 out of the total quantity, and about half of this quantity (44,0 km3) is formed outside the country.
The unit water availability is 37 thousand m3 per 1 km2 and 6,0 thousand m3 per capita a year in Kazakhstan. Moreover, water situation is not uniform throughout the republic. There are both water abundant regions, for example, the Irtysh River basin (East Kazakhstan province) and water scarce regions (Mangistau province).
The state of water use
Currently, the mean annual water consumption by national economic sectors is about 20-24,8 km3. In early 90-s of the last century, this value was about 36,1 km3. The decrease is related to unfavorable flow probability conditions, as well as to on-going structural reforms.
The main water users in Kazakhstan are agriculture, industry, and domestic sector.
Use of water for domestic and drinking needs. Satisfying drinking and domestic needs of population are of first-priority in water use. In the last decade, water withdrawals were more or less stabilized and amounted to 800-900 Mm3.
Actual unit domestic and drinking water consumption averages 167 l/day per urban resident and 68 l/day per rural resident.
There are problems of good-quality drinking water supply almost in all provinces and urban centers of the country. On average, 70-75% of urban population is provided with tap water and 15-18%, with water from decentralized sources. The centralized water supply of rural settlements was ensured previously through construction of local (for one settlement) and group (for a few settlements) water pipes. All large water pipes in rural area were operated and subsidized by the government for their maintenance.
At present, many rural settlements have refused from the services of group water pipes due to technical problems with their operation. Moreover, numerous settlements were disconnected from water-supply by operating organizations due to regular non-payments. The coverage of population with centralized tap water is 75.2%; decentralized sources, 21.0%; open reservoirs, 1.6%; and, water imported from outside sources, 2.2%.
In the Strategic Development Plan of the Republic of Kazakhstan by 2010, the reduction of water shortage and the improvement of water supply are strategic objectives of the government for given period of time.
To this end, a number of program documents are envisaged. One basic document, which regulates activity in drinking water supply, is a sectoral program “Drinking Waters” for 2002-2010. Besides, financing of measures for provision of settlements with drinking water is realized within the framework of the State Agricultural Land Development Program for 2004-2010 and the Small City Development Program for 2004-2006.
Initially, 115 billion tenghe were planned to allocate to the Program. However, changes occurred during the first stage of implementation necessitated to revise its major points. Given Program underwent an independent expertise, including of foreign experts, who assessed positively the first stage and recommended to revise the Program towards increase in financing and wider coverage of settlements to be provided with improved water-supply systems.
According to the Decision of the Government No.956 of 16 October 2007, the sectoral program “Drinking Water” was modified and amended and its updated version was approved, with financing in an amount of 300 billion tenghe, of which 168.8 billion tenghe to come from the republican budget.
The program will ensure that all settlements, where reconstruction and repair of water-supply systems is needed, be embraced and imported water use and unsafe water consumption from open sources be excluded. This will allow meeting the challenge of guaranteed provision of population with safe drinking water.
Use of water for industrial needs
Industrial water consumption is about 5 km3/year on average at the withdrawals of 5.8-7.8 km3/year. Heat-and-power engineering, non-ferrous metallurgy, and oil industry account for larger portion in water withdrawal. Recently, according to the UN Review “Water Resources of Kazakhstan in New Millennium”, industrial water use has also tended to rise by 0.8-1% per year on average.
The use of fresh water per unit production stays high due to poor application of water recycling and water reuse, unsatisfactory conditions of water-distributing system, and low coefficient of efficiency. Currently, up to 40% of water purified for drinking needs is used in industry.
The prospective industrial development is seen in the reduction of water inputs per unit production through wider application of water recycling and reuse.
Use of water for agricultural needs
The major water user is agriculture, the total use of which is about 13.8 km3.
Irrigated agriculture and then liman irrigation have heavier weight in water consumption. Regular irrigation is based mainly on surface runoff and developed widely in the south and south-east areas of the republic.
The analysis of water use shows that irrigation norms and losses in the networks have increased in some zones. The main reasons of ineffective water use are weak application of modern farming technique, bad technical conditions of irrigation and water-distributing systems, deterioration of equipment, lack of water-conservation technologies and water monitoring. Those reasons contributed to deterioration of water quality in sources, salinization of irrigated land, and intensification of desertification.
Use of hydropower resources
In contrast to water consumers (irrigated agriculture, industrial-domestic and agricultural water-supply), hydropower is a water user, which utilizes water energy through creation of water head by constructing diversion (storage) dams. At the same time, hydroelectric power stations (HEPS) use river water and do not pollute them.
Hydropotential of the republic is about 170 billion kWh/year, including: technologically usable - 62 billion kWh; economically usable - 27 billion kWh, of which more than 8.8 billion kWh/yr is used currently.
In order to transfer to more sustainable methods of water resources development and management, the World Summit for Sustainable Development in Johannesburg (2002) called the countries to develop Plans of integrated water resources development and of water efficiency in order to promote achievement of development goals such as poverty reduction, food security, intensive economic growth and ecosystem preservation. This also implies a number of other challenges to be addressed, including preventing of negative water impact, mitigation of drought, improvement of access to safe water and sanitation, as well as problems of growing competition among users and water scarcity.
In this context, within the framework of United Nations Development Program (UNDP) under support of the Norwegian Government, Department for International Development (DFID) and Global Water Partnership (GWP), the Program of Integrated Water Resources Development and Water Efficiency is developed (hereinafter - Program).
Given Program will be a fundamental document containing specific plan of priority actions for the improvement of water sector management.
Basin Councils have been established in all river basins, and specific work has been started on signing of basin agreements on restoration and protection of water objects in order to integrate and coordinate activities of different water users - governmental and non-governmental entities.
Kazakhstan started to develop Master Plan of Integrated Water Resources Use and Protection in River Basins that are the basic strategy of sustainable water use. The Master Plan considers basin as an indivisible ecosystem with population, productive forces, water, energy, mineral, biological and other resources. The Master Plan is planned to be finished for the whole republic by 2010.
The key word in the integrated water resources management (IWRM) is “integration”:
ne of the forms or types of integration is the integration of water managers, water users, and NGO. Basin Councils should unite efforts of the latter in order to achieve efficient use and protection of water resources. Water management is easier to accomplish if staff of Basin Water Administrations (BWA) understands the needs of their “clients”, i.e. water consumers and the community.
Since the Basin Council is established at BWA for the development of recommendations for BWA, and activity of the former is planned by BWA, the staff of the latter should play the key role in activity of Basin Councils. In order to sustain good environment, they should enable water users, community and water managers to negotiate together and discuss in detail water use issues and probable negative effects for aquatic ecosystems and for the nature in general.
Another form of integration is the integration of economy, community and environment or ecology. So far, decision making on water management was based only on economic interests. However, now we understand well that the long-term sustainable economic and social development is impossible without conservation of good environment for human. Subsequently environmental degradation will lead to decreased economic and social activity of population as was the case in Prearalie. The Department for Nature Conserivation, non-governmental environmental organizations that support poor and vulnerable population and others will be represented in Basin Councils. This will allow the balancing of economic, environmental, and social needs in making water-related decisions.
Another important aspect is the integration of water and health. All rivers, aquifers and other water objects became more polluted or vulnerable to inadequate decision making regarding water quality. This affects the health of the population. Kazakhstan’s Sanitary and Epidemiological Service and other agencies responsible for water monitoring in relation to water safety for the health are aware about the problems of polluted water sources. Those problems are caused mainly by industrial plants and utility companies that discharge wastes partially or not treated at all. Now, the representatives of industrial plants, municipal services and health-care services in Basin Councils will have a possibility to address the problems, come to an agreement at managerial level and put the public health needs into the agenda of round-table discussions.
The industry plays an important role in water resources management, therefore the integration of water and industry in Basin Councils is critical. The industry plays a dual role: it is a water consumer, on the one hand, and a potential polluter, on the other hand. As a driver of the economy, the industrial sector is significant for well-being of the community. However, as a polluter, this sector creates bad environmental conditions for the health. Basin Councils will enable the industrial sector and other basin stakeholders to discuss together ways to solve the pollution problem. In international practice, raising of public awareness about major polluters of water sources and of environment through Basin Councils leads to the information pressure on polluters and forces them to reduce waste discharge and apply best technologies.
It should be noted that agriculture, same as industry, is a major water consumer. Agricultural effluents polluting water create environmental problems as well.
All those issues can be solved at meeting of Basin Councils.
Information is a critical area for integration. Reliable information is needed for good water management. Basin Councils will be comprised of people from provincial organizations who have information and are kept informed in area of water management. Basin Council will decide which kind of information should be accessible for other stakeholders. The Councils themselves will start to identify areas, where information is scarce or unreliable and inadequate, and make decisions on the improvement or expansion of an information system. Moreover, relevant organizations should take measures to implement decisions made by Basin Councils.
Integration of water quantity and water quality is another key component. Until now, these two elements have not been considered in an integral way. Meanwhile, the only effective way to keep river or any other water object healthy is an integration of those two elements in water management. The Basin Council will exactly be an institution, which serves for discussion of such issues and search for a balanced solution.
Integration of surface and ground waters is seen as a priority component of the integrated water resources management as well. There is no a formal space where BWA and Geological Department can meet together and participate in the development of water management plans. In most basins, these two organizations communicate with each other and share information; however, there is no essential component such as “joint use of surface and ground waters”. In this context, Basin Council will be a formal place, where the organizations can work on the improvement of equilibrium between these two water sources.
There are also areas of water and land interaction, therefore the integration of these two elements of water and land is also a substantial aspect. The integration in this case indicates that watershed area should be protected in order to conserve water resources. Land management here implies regime of the use of water-protection zones and belts for economic activities.
In the same line we should address the pollution of surface and ground waters due to inadequate control of solid wastes (garbage) and, particularly, the harmful practice of sewage tanks (ponds, fields), which receive contaminated effluents from urban areas.
In order to address water conservation challenges, the Water Code was supplemented by a rule, which obliges users diverting water from natural sources to equip intake structures with water meters since 2009. For enforcement of this rule, in 2008 it is planned to develop a feasibility study of creating the information system of on-line water control. Given system will receive water meter readings transmitted through up-to-date communication channels. This will allow the flexible and efficient water distribution and bring the state water control to higher technological level.
In order to implement water saving technologies of irrigation, the subsidizing of irrigation water cost is increased from 25 to 80% for those agricultural producers who apply mechanical watering, including drip irrigation.
Legal and regulatory mechanisms of water supply in the Republic of Kazakhstan
The economic and social development of Kazakhstan largely depends on sustainable functioning of the water sector. In turn, the efficient protection of water resources and their rational use to a great extent depend on legal regulation of water relations.
The main directions of national development in area of water resources are set out in the Development Strategy of Kazakhstan up to 2030 and the Strategic Development Plan of Kazakhstan up to 2010 approved by the President’s Decree No.735 of December 4, 2001.
Within the framework of the Strategy-2030, for the mid-term future the Government approved the “Conception of water sector development and water policy in the Republic of Kazakhstan by 2010.” The main tasks under the public water policy as set in the Conception include the development and implementation of programs in the following lines:
In 2003, a new Water Code was adopted and replaced that of 1993. The Code is intended to settle the issues related to:
As to quality of water objects, the Water Code stipulates new approaches to regulation, based on target indicators of water and criteria of water quality, as well as on gross standardization of all water-related activities within the boundaries of given basin, waterway or site. At the same time, implementation of these new requirements concerning regulation of water quality will take a lot of time and huge efforts for the development of appropriate standards and their enforcement.
The Law about Environmental Conservation sets out the issues of conservation of water resources as an environmental object.
A number of provisions and regulations dealing with water relations are included into the Land and Forest Codes. In particular, the Land Code contains specific chapter on lands of water fund, which includes lands under water bodies, hydraulic and other water-related structures and facilities, as well as water-protection zones, belts and sanitary protection zones of intake structures for drinking water-supply. The provisions of Land Code regulate specific issues related to ownership of these lands, the procedure of their allocation and use, restrictions for their withdrawal, etc.
The Law about Rural Consumers’ Cooperative of Water Users contains provisions regulating relations during the process of water supply and consumption between physical and/or legal persons - the members of rural consumers’ cooperative of water users and state agencies and the non-members of given cooperative.
The Code of Administrative Offences and the Criminal Code establish liability for offences, violations in area of environmental protection and natural resources (including water) use.
Legislative acts regulating relations in area of prevention and elimination of water-related emergencies include also such laws of Kazakhstan as on “Natural and Anthropogenic Emergencies”, “Civil Defense”, “Rescue Services and Status of Rescuers”, “Fire Safety”, “Industrial Safety of Hazardous Facilities”, “Mineral Resources and Their Management”, and “Sanitary and Epidemiologic Weil-Being of the Population.”
Many issues connected with public management, use and protection of water resources are regulated by subordinate acts also. In particular, the following issues are regulated through Government Regulations:
One topical issue of water law in Kazakhstan is the legal regulation of drinking water supply. For sustainable provision of people with drinking water in adequate quality and quantity, the Government of Kazakhstan approved the sectoral program “Drinking Waters”. The program activities cover about 4 million people, including urban population of more than 3 millions. Based on the program, provincial akimats (local governments) developed regional (provincial) programs “Drinking Waters”, “Taza Suu”, and “Sapaly suu”.
Besides, a draft of the Law on Drinking Water is developed currently. Given draft should set basic provisions in legislation regarding people’s access to drinking water. Yet those matters are regulated mainly by normative acts (State Standards, sanitary regulations and standards).
Practically all normative documents regulating water quality are of departmental nature. The norms of maximum allowable discharge and of maximum permissible concentration of pollutants in water sources are set by sanitary and epidemiological services of the Ministry of Health upon agreement with the Ministry of Environmental Conservation.
The parliamentarians of Kazakhstan developed draft laws, such as on Water Supply and Discharge, on Amending and Supplementing the Water Code of the Republic of Kazakhstan.
The draft law on water supply and discharge establishes legal, economic, and institutional frameworks of the public policy on water supply and discharge in the republic.
The draft law on amending and supplementing the Water Code establishes legal, financial and other grounds for the development of normative legal and normative-technical acts in area of water supply and discharge. It also gives more detailed definition of concepts used in the Code and of jurisdiction of an authorized body in area of water fund use and protection.
In area of water supply the following international agreements were signed within the framework of the Central Asian Economic Community:
The Agreement between the Government of Kazakhstan and the Government of Kyrgyzstan on the use of interstate water structures along the rivers Chu and Talas, which is ratified by the law No.301 of Kazakhstan on March 7, 2002;
The Agreement between the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan on the use of water and energy resources in the Syrdarya River basin, of 17 March 1998;
The Agreement between the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, and Uzbekistan on the shared and integrated use of water and energy resources of Naryn-Syrdarya reservoir cascade, of 17 March 1998;
The Agreement between the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan on the parallel operation of water and energy systems in Central Asian states, of 17 June 1999;
Protocol of amendments and supplements to the Agreement between the Governments of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan on the use of water and energy resources in the Syrdarya River basin of 17 March 1998.
Measures to enhance international cooperation
Kazakhstan is located in the tail part of all large transboundary waterways. Thus, the water availability of the republic, to a great extent, depends on water policies and water allocation principles of neighboring upstream states. Therefore, sustainable economic development in the region is subject to efficient interstate cooperation.
Quite constructive cooperation is observed in relations with Russia. In 1992, an Agreement was signed on the shared use and protection of transboundary water objects and later prolonged till 2007. Besides, a Kazakhstan-Russian Commission was established and holds regular meetings.
At the same time, the Agreement does not provide for regulation of parties’ liabilities for quality of water flown to Kazakhstan and to Russia. In this context, transboundary waterways are subjected to heavy industrial and domestic pollution. Currently, water agencies of the both countries are negotiating to amend given agreement.
Relations of Kazakhstan with a number of Central Asian republics in area of shared water use are more complex. Contrasting interests of the republics have not yet allowed finding absolute trade-off for solution of interstate water problems. The following stubborn problems occur in the transboundary Syrdarya river basin every year:
Moreover, at present, Uzbekistan, without prior agreement with other states, is constructing several reservoirs, with the total capacity of more than 2 billion m3 in the Syrdarya basin. The matter concerns the interception of water limit of downstream water users and the demand of the Aral Sea and Prearalie.
In order to increase flow capacity in the Syrdarya river in winter period, as well as to improve withdrawals for irrigated schemes in South Kazakhstan and Kyzyl Orda provinces, rehabilitate aquatic ecosystems in the lower reaches and restore North Aral Sea, Kazakhstan implements the project “Regulation of the Syrdarya river channel and of North Aral Sea”. Currently, its 1st phase is close to completion and 2nd phase will start.
Despite all this, the Central Asian countries achieved certain progress in cooperation development: regulatory framework in process of formation; created institutional mechanism of interaction; on-going international programs for environmental and socio-economic improvement in the region (the projects of the International Fund for Aral Sea Saving). However, there are a number of problems constraining cooperation in this area:
Efficient use and protection of waterways shared with China pose similar potential threat. Since independence of Kazakhstan, the country has brought up repeatedly a need to formalize legally bilateral relations in this area before China. However, such initiatives were not always understood by the Chinese side.
In September 2001, the Agreement was signed between the Government of Kazakhstan and the People’s Republic of China about cooperation in area of transboundary water use and protection.
The Agreement between the Ministry of Agriculture of Kazakhstan and the Ministry of Water Resources of China was signed in 2005 on the urgent notification of the parties about disasters on transboundary rivers. The Kazakhstan-Chinese Commission was established for use and protection of transboundary rivers. The parties started to design a joint waterworks facility on the Khorgos river.
By present, the following drafts of Agreements have been approved:
Thus, recently some progress is achieved in relations between Kazakhstan and China, however an understanding on the main interstate Agreement for water allocation along transboundary river has not been reached.
At present, China has 52.5 Mha of irrigated land. In order to ensure food security of fast growing population, the country plans to extend the irrigated area up to 60 Mha, mainly in its western part, within the next few years. This will worsen greatly water-related and environmental conditions in eastern and south-eastern parts of China. Evidently, China will keep showing growing demand for water in transboundary rivers (not only Irtysh and Ily) since this issue is of strategic importance for this country. New, very prospective industrial zones will be developed in Chinese western regions that border Kazakhstan. In general, it is estimated that the increase of water withdrawals by China may achieve 15-20% of the total river runoff.
In this context, Kazakhstan may face a real threat of water deficit in a number of their regions, including Almata, East-Kazakhstan, Pavlodar, Karaganda, and even Akmola province in the future.
As to water withdrawals from Ily River, this will cause a serious damage to metallurgy and energy industries, agriculture, as well as fisheries. In environmental terms, shallowing and salinization of Balkhash may bring to consequences comparable with the Aral disaster.
Practical proposals making provision for measures and mechanisms on sustainable water supply in the Republic of Kazakhstan given the transboundary character of surface water resources
Given the transboundary character of surface water resources, in the nearest future Kazakhstan may face a critical challenge of water supply. This is related to the problem of low water availability and consumed water quality in the region and the increase in water demand in Kazakhstan and neighboring countries.
Evidently, solution of this challenge should be comprehensive and full-scale. We should address the issue as a whole, rather than solve isolated tasks and combine actions at intra-state and international level. In this context, in our view, a set of measures should address the following directions:
This organization can be based on principles and mechanisms as developed within the framework of well-known conceptions “Global Deal” and “Regional Deal”. In particular, the “Regional Deal” of Kazakhstan implies the process of consolidation (integration) of the agreements among all the states in the region with other countries and interstate unions, world institutions and donors in order to define contribution to and obligations of all these parties in area of sustainable development (SD) and security.
In this context, the key elements of the “Regional Deal” for Central Asia will allow implementation of existing recommendation basis - for solution of a number of regional problems - developed within the framework of such agencies as UN, SPECA, IFAS, ESCAP, ICWC, and others.
The proposed institution, established on the basis of “Regional contract” principles, should become a political tool for balancing interests of the parties and will act as a real effective mechanism aimed at creating appropriate conditions for sustainable development and security in Central Asia.
For a number of reasons and grounds, the United Nations Organization (UN) can be a real basis for such institution. The local initiative for the establishment of a specialized institution dedicated to solve regional problems in Central Asia will be understood clearly in UN and find political and financial support. Thus, a specific Commission for Sustainable Development in the Central Asian Region (CSDCAR) may be established at the UN.
Within such agency, it would be logical to continue more detailed and thematic development of solution lines for existing water use problems in the region, as proposed by UN, ECE, and ESCAP in their Diagnostic Report for the preparation of the regional strategy for rational and efficient use of water resources in Central Asia.
Another alternative of a back-up organization to focus on is the Asia Mutual Trust Meeting (AMTM). The below arguments can be sited for this organization:
Moreover, AMTM was established as an analogue of Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). In one’s time the latter started to work as “meeting” and there was much skepticism regarding its future as now it is the case with AMTM. Now, OSCE is a powerful organization and the region can figure on its support of “Central Asian Project”.
Thus, clarifying the basic structure, which can be AMTM, we consider it expedient to establish under its umbrella an organization called conditionally a Central Asian development organization or briefly CADO.
Exactly CADO will be intended to secure regular execution of established requirements and tasks of the new-level partnership, among which the basic ones are the following:
Evidently, CADO should have administrative bodies:
Water crisis is, in essence, a crisis of management for most countries, including Kazakhstan. Particularly, the main cause of negative environmental and social consequences is the resource-based approach to the use of natural resources, mainly, of water, where the state of ecosystems is often ignored. Such approach to water use has been prevailing still. No integration of environmental, social, and economic concerns is maintained in decision making. Decisions are usually made by the state agencies responsible for environmental conservation, thus not ensuring balanced consideration of socio-economic benefits and losses of given project. And, vice versa, the transfer of decision making mandate to “non-environmental” agencies causes that environmental considerations are fully neglected.
Such situation calls for the elaboration of reliable mechanisms for management of economic and natural system interactions, the improvement of mechanisms of ecosystem approach to water-related activity and higher level of understating of given problem at the national and regional levels.
Besides, current tendencies show that water challenges become more complex and interrelated with other economic sectors, including agriculture, energy, industry, transport and communication, as well as with social sectors such as education, environment, health, rural and regional development.
Therefore, the water policy and challenges should be assessed, analyzed and addressed in integrated general context of development; otherwise, the main goals of water management such as improvement of people’s life, eradication of poverty, efficient and equitable allocation of benefits, and conservation of the nature cannot be achieved. The main challenge is the socially acceptable and economically effective achievement of those goals.
The national water management policy, especially under conditions of transboundary water resources, should ensure achieving the long-term objective of rational water use and water conservation in order to improve health and living conditions of the republic’s population. Experience of many developed countries demonstrates that the efficient and integrated participatory water management together in knowledge and information exchange contributes to economic development, institutional stability, and conflict avoidance.
Activity of national water agencies, in many respects, depends on good information provision and adequate organization of information flows for supporting efficiently decision making.
As a whole, the strategic goal of the national water policy should be the implementation of long-term comprehensive measures aimed at eliminating the negative consequences of water scantiness and creating conditions for economic growth, overcoming of social and economic problems, and settlement of interstate water relations. Moreover, we should proceed from an understanding that water is a resource, which has a certain economic value and determines sustainability of national development and that water quality in internal and transboundary rivers should not be addressed separately from water quantity. Thus, the main principles of water policy should be the integrated approach to water resources management, the reduction of discharged pollutants into and of water withdrawals from the natural sources, and the economic regulation of use on the basis of balanced tariff system.