Qosh Tepa Canal Threatens Water Balance in Central Asia

Qosh Tepa Canal, artist's rendition, TCA, Aleksandr Potolitsyn

The construction of the Qosh Tepa Canal may threaten Central Asia’s water balance and the region must address the issue. The warning, given by Nikolay Podguzov, Chairman of the Board of the Eurasian Development Bank which is involved in projects affecting the region’s water balance, was reported  by AKI press.

According to experts, the Qosh Tepa Canal, currently under construction in Afghanistan, receives ten cubic kilometers of water per year from general drainage, and also, the Amu Darya river.

Marat Imonkulov, Secretary of the Kyrgyz Security Council, said that a reduction of water in the Amu Darya will inevitably lead to an increase in water taken from the Syr Darya river for agriculture and other needs. Some analysts claim that under such a scenario, Central Asia will face a chronic water shortage.

Although not one of its members, the EDB, reminded Afghanistan that the construction of the canal is being implemented by the state on its territory and Podguzov stressed, “The states mutually resolve issues related to relations through diplomatic channels. But we have to solve the problem together. I believe that the countries will agree.”

Analysts seek to resolve the situation by developing digital water accounting, water conservation, and proper treatment of the region’s resources.

The Qosh Tepa Canal project, conducted by the Taliban and currently underway in northern Afghanistan, is a significant initiative in managing the Amu Darya’s water resource but during its first phase, has raised concerns among Central Asian countries.

Heeding specialists’ forecasts, the President of Uzbekistan, Shavkat Mirziyoyev, said that the construction of the Qosh Tepa Canal will change the water regime and balance in Central Asia.