Defining the Geopolitics of a Thirsty WorldSM
Turkmenistan’s Lake in the Desert: A Modern Day Mirage?

Via Aquadoc, a report that Turkmenistan is proceeding with its grand scheme to create a lake in a desert located in the northwest part of the country, southwest of Sarykamish Lake, in the Karashor Depression. Initally conceived during the tenure of its late dictator Saparmurat Niyazov (aka ‘Turkmenbashi’ – ‘Father of all Turkmens’) ground for the lake – to be called the Golden Age Lake – was broken in 2000.  As the article notes:

“…The lake will cover about 3500 square kilometers (1,350 square miles), approximately the size of the Great Salt Lake. The lake is supposed to contain 135-145 cubic kilometers of water and be as deep as 130 meters (425 feet).

Water for the lake will come from two drainage canals, which will bring irrigation drainage water from the irrigation projects in the eastern and southeastern parts of the country. These projects are fed by the Amu Darya, the river the roughly forms the boundary with Uzbekistan, and produce primarily cotton.

The Turkmens claim the project will reclaim salt-damaged formerly arable land, protect archaeological sites from being destroyed by salt and rising water tables, create migratory bird habitat and an inland fishery. But the lake’s water will be laden with chemicals – it’s irrigation return flow, after all. The lake will take decades to fill (if it ever does); critics question whether the lake will fill, because of high evaporation rates and seepage losses.

Another worry is that the Turkmens, in an effort to purify the lake water, will withdraw more water from the Amu Darya, which would not please the Uzbeks. And that’s an understatement.

The project may not be a done deal, because since the death of Turkmenbashi, Turkmenistan has “opened up” more and is more sensitive to world opinion. New President Gurbanguly Berdimuhammedow may reconsider the project…”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, June 17th, 2008 at 4:09 am and is filed under Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan.  You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.  You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site. 

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