In an interview to CentralAsia.news, a well-known Turkmen scientist, Doctor of Technical Sciences Allaberdy Ilyasov spoke about the great importance of the rational use of the water resources of Earth.
«Nature — Society — Man»
The development of the world economy, not coordinated with the potentials of the natural environment, its reproductive capacity and sometimes ignoring the laws of nature, is the cause of trends that worsen the ecology of the planet.
And today, in the global system «Nature — Society — Man» 10 major tasks have been formed. The first four are the problems of energy, water, food consumption and the impact on the environment. They are the most acute. The water resources of the planet play an important role in the life processes of the flora and fauna of the biosphere.
The sacred «law» of the Turkmen people
Careful attitude to water is a national tradition of the Turkmen people, our ancestors equated every drop of water to a grain of gold and considered it a message from heaven. Currently, in the context of climate change and an increase in the annual need of agriculture for water resources, both in Turkmenistan and around the world, there is a vital need for the rational use of water resources and respect for them and environmental protection.
Turkmenistan has sufficient water and land resources. Annually it is receiving 22-25 billion cubic meters of fresh water from rivers, agricultural products are grown on an area of more than 1.5 million hectares of fertile land for the needs of the population, these are grain, cotton, vegetables and fruits, fodder crops and others. The water resources of Turkmenistan are formed by the Amudarya, Murgab, Tejen and Etrek rivers, as well as dozens of springs and streams. The main part of water resources is used in agriculture.
Taking into account the prospects for the development of the agro-industrial complex, the need for irrigation water can only be met under certain conditions, the most important of which are raising the technical level of irrigation systems through their reconstruction, carrying out a comprehensive reconstruction and meliorative improvement of the used irrigated lands.
In recent years, the agricultural sector has changed a lot. The country continues to introduce high-tech and efficient methods of irrigating crops, work on the use of collector-drainage and waste water through their accumulation, purification and desalination is underway. The agro-industrial complex is directly dependent on the water sector and, in this regard, the adaptation measures of these two sectors are closely interconnected.
Water diplomacy of Turkmenistan
In Central Asia, interstate water cooperation is a key factor in solving water problems and issues of socio-economic development, ensuring peace, stability and security. The entire surface water potential involved in the water management balance of Turkmenistan is formed outside of it and, in essence, is transboundary.
The water use of each country in the Central Asian region is not autonomous and independent. It covers all aspects of mutual cooperation and is based on diplomatic, economic and good relations of neighboring states using the single water system of the Aral Sea basin.
Water cooperation is becoming even more important in the region today amid climate change and population growth. At the same time, Turkmenistan considers the consolidation of international efforts to create a fair global and regional water use system based on multilateral interests and equal access of states to water resources as the main goal of water diplomacy.
One of the main tasks of the water diplomacy of Turkmenistan is the initiation of a universal document of a political and legal nature — the UN Water Strategy. It contains the goals, approaches and actions of the international community regarding the conservation and use of the planet’s water resources on a long-term basis.
Factors and prospects
One of the most important activities of the UN has long been focused on overcoming the global crisis caused by the underdeveloped water supply system, which is so necessary to meet basic human needs. The problem is also exacerbated by the growing demand for water for both domestic use and commercial and agricultural activities. In the field of ensuring the sustainable development of the world, water resources occupy a central place.
Economic and sustainable development is impossible without them and the range of services they provide. Water resources contribute to improving the overall well-being of mankind. According to the UN World Water Assessment Program, they are fundamental to the three pillars of sustainable development — social, economic and environmental. Their growth depends on the limited resources of river flow, which are limited and often vulnerable.
In this context, the prospect of environmentally sustainable development of the Turkmen state is directly related to ensuring the stable growth of water supply systems in all regions of the country.
And here, one of the factors in the conservation of water resources in Turkmenistan is the accumulation of water reserves in existing reservoirs, canals, and water pipelines by keeping them in working condition in terms of volume.
Another factor are culverts with hydromechanization and regular cleaning of mechanisms from silting. Another important condition for the accumulation of water reserves is the regulation of the runoff of small rivers and small water sources through the construction of cascade catchment ponds in their channels.
Thanks to such constructive steps with the use of modern technologies, uninterrupted water supply is guaranteed. And its economical use thus increases the protection of the environment. And in this context, it is necessary to remind the world about the issue.
The essential problem of the world
Water reserves on Earth seem colossal, but fresh water makes up only 2.5 percent of the hydrosphere, and the least water is found in rivers, lakes and groundwater — approximately 40-50 thousand cubic km. In many of the world’s water basins, the impact of climate change on ecosystems and society is becoming more and more visible.
Ensuring resilience to such changes has become one of the most important challenges, as climate change negatively affects the quality and quantity of water resources, the temperature of water and water-related ecosystems, and leads to an increase in the scale and frequency of extreme weather events such as floods and droughts.
The impact of climate change on water resources affects many sectors, including agriculture, energy, fisheries, tourism and health, as well as the biodiversity of natural ecosystems.
Culture of thinking
At the present stage of social development and in the near future, before the water problem both at the global and regional-local levels, for example, at the level of basin geosystems of the rivers of Central Asia (Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan) lawyers, financiers, ecologists and economists will be a powerless scientific «instrument» that assumes the rational use of water resources, the quantitative and qualitative indicators of which are formed within the spatial limits of the basin geosystem.
The surface layers of the atmosphere, the river natural hydrographic network in the catchment area, where surface water runoff is formed, as well as the existing artificial hydrographic network in the form of water-carrying channels are considered.
The well-known thesis of the Club of Rome (an international public organization that has made a significant contribution to the study of the prospects for the development of the biosphere and the promotion of the idea of harmonizing the relationship between man and nature): «Think globally, but act locally», reflects the culture of thinking that determines the rational adoption of specific decisions, in particular, with the problem rational use of water resources.
Addressing water scarcity issues is linked to the development of national and local water management strategies. First of all, the task is to make economical use of resources. The goal can be achieved by reducing water consumption per unit of production (agricultural and industrial).
Many countries are taking measures aimed at economical water use by the population: to prevent water leakage, rationally use natural water bodies, and not pollute them.
Here are the main methods of saving fresh water: the use of drip irrigation, lining irrigation canals with waterproof materials, collecting rainwater, forming fresh water storage facilities, automation and control of production processes.
Also, the most common technologies and methods for the processing and purification of water: filtration, ultraviolet disinfection, ozonation. The leaders in the use of treated wastewater are Oman (100% of reuse) and the UAE (89%).
However, the most active form of protection of fresh water from pollution is the creation of a waste-free production technology. This is a set of measures that minimizes the amount of harmful discharges in technological processes. This includes the creation of territorial-industrial complexes of raw materials and waste, the development of drainless technological systems based on wastewater treatment methods, the processing of production waste into secondary resources, the use of production methods with the formation of a minimum amount of waste.