By Zulfiya Bainekeeva
A joint meeting of the Kazakhstan-Russian commission on protection of cross-border water facilities was held in Atyrau. The commission reviewed the issue of the shallowing Ural River.
Status under threat
The commission consists of water basin experts from Atyrau, West Kazakhstan, Aktobe Oblasts (Kazakhstan) and Orenburg region (Russia).
The Ural River provides water to 4,5 million people, inhabiting along its coast, where 70 cities and other settlements are located in Kazakhstan and Russia. At the meeting it was voiced that in the last 20 years the water volume in the river decreased by more than twice: from 12 down to 5 cubic kilometers. If this process is not stopped, then the Ural River can lose its status as the navigable and fishery river. According to Orak Bisembiev, the Deputy Head of Natural Resources and Nature Management Department of Atyrau Oblast, in the past years along the river there were 80 natural sturgeon spawning areas, but now there are only 13 of them left.
Sergey Yuzepchuk, the deputy chief of water resources department of Lower Volga Basin Management of Orenburg region, named four main issues of the Ural River. He said that water content is decreased because of natural factors; economic activity; water losses in ponds and water reservoirs; deterioration of river water due to its use by mining industry.
- Both Kazakhstan and Russian companies pollute the river, - said Bisen Kuanov, the chief of Zhaik-Caspisky Basin Inspectorate for Regulation of Use and Protection of Water Resources.
We can solve the problems only by joining our efforts. For this purpose we installed 10 monitoring posts along the river and twice a week we exchange data.
The commission also discussed the issue of water accumulation and level of water dumping in the Iriklinsky reservoir. The Kazakhstan party said about the need to increase the norm of water passing that directly impacts the level of water content in the Ural River.
Besides, members of the commission came to the mutual decision on need of restoration and preservation a forest plantation along the bed of the river, interfering water evaporation from its surface.
The commission developed a joint action plan for pollution reduction of the river basin.