Turkmen Scientists Note Positive Effect of Drainage Water Management

Serdar etrap has hosted a Research-and-Practice Conference devoted to the importance of the Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake in developing nature conservation and socio-ecological systems, as part of festive events.

Organized by the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan, the forum was attended by leading scientists, senior officials and staff members of the Academy’s research institutes and higher education institutes the Technology Center, Institute of Chemistry, Institute of Seismology and Atmospheric Physics, Turkmen State University, National Institute of Education, Turkmen Agricultural University and Turkmen Agricultural Institute, International Institute of Oil and Gas, University of Engineering Technologies, etc., and specialists of the Ministry of Agriculture and Environment Protection, State Committee of Water Management, Türkmensuwylymtaslama Institute, and media representatives.

Conference participants discussed a broad range of issues relating to the construction and use of the Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake in the Garagum Desert.Speakers highlighted that water issues are a matter of particular concern to many countries now; sustainable use of water resources and looking for new sources of water are one of the major challenges of today.

In this context, Turkmenistan’s experience of applying an integrated and scientific approach to the issues of drainage water management is truly unique.Since the completion of the first phase of the Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake in 2009, brackish water from farmlands in Akhal, Balkan, Dashoguz, Lebap and Mary velayats has been collected in the Garashor Depression formed by tectonic activity.

This allows lowering the groundwater table and leads to farmland improvement.As a result, thousands hectares of pastures are now used for livestock grazing, and biodiversity in the region has significantly enhanced.

The project has won high praise from the international community and is seen as Turkmenistan’s valuable contribution to improving the environment in the entire Central Asian region.The Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake is ecologically important for the region in many ways.

In particular, it helps to lessen the Aral Sea’s negative impact, to effectively combat desertification, and to encourage the diversity in flora and fauna.Thanks to the Lake, it has become possible to plant trees in the Garagum Desert on a large-scale, and to improve the microclimate.

For many years, specialists from the Institute of Chemistry of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan have been constantly monitoring the Lake, the main water collector (which has its source in the east of the country), and the Dashoguz diversion canal, carrying out hydrochemical and physico-chemical water analyses.

They have mobile laboratories outfitted with up-to-date research equipment, instruments and software at their disposal.In particular, an atomic emission spectrometer enables the experts to analyze close to 100 chemical elements dissolved in water; a gas analyzer is capable of detecting 7 gases - air pollutants.

With the data collected, ecological maps have been produced showing the areas irrigated by drainage water from the Lake; fish stocks of the Lake’s large water reservoirs have been assessed to ensure sustainable fishing.

Scientists of the Academy of Sciences of Turkmenistan have also developed innovative technologies for irrigating agricultural crops, and are now preparing recommendations for their application.As noted, a series of research studies had been made on cultivating forage crops-halophytes, adapted to growing in saline conditions and mineral soils.

Some varieties of wild-growing forage plants that were irrigated with drainage water twice or three times during the summer, produced 7-8 tons per hectare.They are supposed to be used as fodder for livestock, wintering in distant pastures.

In turn, it will allow saving the expenses of transporting the fodder.New possibilities begin to open up for the expansion of both state-run and private livestock farms, given the improvement of the ecological situation with the construction of the Turkmen Lake, and re-use of previously unusable drainage water.

Reclamation of lands adjacent to the man-made lake will lend impetus to the development of the fishing industry, poultry breeding, horticulture, forestry, and the entire agricultural sector.The Garagum Desert’s landscapes will change dramatically.

New urban-type settlements will be built here boasting houses with high standards of comfort.Alongside with that, the creation of new jobs will contribute to employment growth.

All in all, this will facilitate the implementation of state socio-economic programs, including those aimed at import substitution and growth in exports of locally-made products.The Altyn Asyr Turkmen Lake’s high economic efficiency is beyond doubt.

What is more, its economic returns will continue to increase as the years go by.The main thing is that this all produces a powerful social effect aimed at sustainable development and rational use of natural resources in the whole region.

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