Tajikistan takes one of the leading positions in the Central Asian region as well as throughout the world on the reserves of water resources.
Large reserves of snow and glaciers are accumulated in the country. The number of glaciers in the country amounts to 14509 with a total area of glaciations 11146 km2. The total stock of the ice in glaciers is about 845 km3, which is 13 times more than the annual flow of all rivers of the country.
There are approximately 947 rivers flows through the territory of Tajikistan; the total length exceeds 28500 km. Over 80% of the Amudarya River flow and 1% of the Sirdarya River flow are formed in Tajikistan. As a whole, it is 64 km3 of river flow per year, which amounts to 55.4% of the total drainage of the Aral Sea basin.
Lakes and reservoirs
The country has about 1300 lakes with total area of 705 km2. Lakes of Tajikistan contain more than 46.3 km3 of water, including 20 km3 of fresh water.
As of today, there are 9 reservoirs that’s are exploited in Tajikistan with the total water surface area of 664 km2. The total volume of the reservoirs is 15.344 km3, which is 13% of the average annual flow of rivers of the Aral Sea basin. The useful capacity of reservoirs of the country totals to 7.63 km3.
The potential groundwater reserve of Tajikistan is 6.9 km3/year. The actual exploitation of groundwater reserves are estimated at 2.5 km3/year.
The main consumers of water and water users in Tajikistan
The main consumers of water in Tajikistan are irrigated agriculture, the share varies from 85 to 90% of the total volume of water used, drinking water supply up to 2-3%, industry up to 2-3% and fisheries — 2%.
Irrigated agriculture is a strategically important area of the economy. It provides up to 90% of agricultural production, which is about 20% of the national GDP. Thus, irrigated agriculture makes a significant contribution for economic development and food security. The importance of irrigated agriculture is significant in ensuring employment for the rural population constituting more than 70% of the population of the country.
Recreational resources of Tajikistan are also an important potential for future development of the country. The country has 162 natural landscape monuments, more than 200 being mineral springs, as well as 18 mud and salt lakes. These resources are effective for investments of national and foreign capital and in the future may become one of the main components of the country’s economic development.
Water resources play an important role in conservation of ecological systems, particularly wetlands and especially protected natural areas, the most important ones are «Tigrovaya Balka» and the Tajik National Park, which have an ecological value.
Along with the socio-economic benefits of water resources, there is also a negative impact. Difficult geographical conditions make the country vulnerable to natural disasters such as mudslides and floods repeated up to 25 times per decade. In very wet years, the damage from floods and mudslides in Tajikistan reaches to hundreds of millions of dollars. Only the damage caused by mudslides and floods in 2010 amounted to more than 600 million USD. This seriously undermines the country’s efforts to achieve the internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs.
The foreground water use in the country is drinking water supply and sanitation, however, in terms of importance in ensuring economic development the hydropower dominates.
Tajikistan’s hydropower potential is estimated at 527 billion. KWh/year that three times the current electricity consumption in Central Asia. As regard of potential reserves of hydropower, Tajikistan ranks eighth in the world, after China, Russia, USA, Brazil, Zaire, India and Canada. As regard to specific indicators of hydropower per square kilometer (3,696.9 thousand kWh. per year / km2) and per capita (65.9 thousand kWh. Per year / person), the country ranks the first and second in the world, respectively.
The current use of hydropower resources in Tajikistan allows producing about 17 billion. KWh of electricity per year, which is about 3% of the existing capacity. The share of hydropower in the overall scheme of the fuel and energy balance of the country is over 98%. The main consumers of electricity in the country are industry, agriculture, transport, communication, and household sector. In principle, these sectors are crucial for economic development as evidenced by the structure of the country’s GDP.
Source: Water SDG 2016 org
Global water initiatives of Tajikistan
Water attractions of Tajikistan
There are many beautiful mountain lakes in Tajikistan. While the Karakul Lake in the Eastern Pamir is considered the largest lake in Tajikistan and the deepest one is the Sarez Lake in the western part of the Pamir Mountains, the most beautiful lake of the country is indubitably the Iskanderkul.
The Iskanderkul is located in the delightful Fan Mountains. The lake has numerous stories, legends and traditions that local residents passed from mouth to mouth. The story goes that the beauty of this miracle nature captivated even Alexander III of Macedon during a military campaign to the Central Asia. That is why the lake is named after him — Iskander (Alexander). From the lake, the Iskander Darya rough river flows that forms unusually beautiful and majestic waterfall called the «Fan Niagara» falling from a height of 38 meters.
Karokul is located at an altitude of 3900 m above the sea level near the village of Karakul in the Murghab district of Tajikistan. It is 100 meters above the famous alpine Titicaca Lake in the Andes. Bitter-salty water of Karakul remains cold for most of the year. When the weather is calm the lake water is clear, but in a strong wind, the waves are coming, and the color of water takes on a black hue, which gave the name of the lake. The Lakeshore is surrounded by high mountains on three sides, and only on the east side, it goes to a small picturesque valley.
The Sarez Lake emerged in 1911 as a result of the unique geological phenomenon: after a powerful earthquake, the Murghab River was blocked by a rock mass with a volume of 2.2 km3, which led to the formation of the dam. Over the next ten years, the water level in the lake has stabilized. The volume of water in the lake is 17 km3, the length of the lake is 70 km, and the depth is over 500 m. The Sky-blue water surrounded by a ring of steep red and brown-red coastal cliffs and fjords, the pristine wild nature makes traveling to the region unforgettable.
You can get to the beautiful Kulikalon lakes through Alaudin mountain pass, which takes one day the way there. Beautiful walls consisting of high mountains of Mirali (5120 m), Maria (4970 m) and Adamtash (4700 m) surround Kulikalon lakes. Kulikalon lakes are famous for the fact that cast all colors of the rainbow. This is an extraordinary sight!
Artificial pearl of Tajikistan (such lyrical name is given to the reservoir) has emerged as a result of construction of hydroelectric power station on the Syr Darya River. The length of the lake is 75 km. The area is more than 4 million sq. m. The location is the North part of the Republic of Tajikistan, near the city of Khujand. Kayrakum is surrounded by blossoming mountain landscape.
Numerous of comfortable hotels are stretched along Kayrakum, indicating the development of tourism infrastructure here.
The biggest attraction of Kairakum are sandy beaches, which stretch along the coast. Number of beach cafes, lounges, boat trips are there to serve tourists. For all those wishing to take a tour, guides will conduct tours to the ancient monuments and oriental bazaars. In Kairakum there are lots of different species of fish breeding. People come here to fish from around the country.
Nurek reservoir is a genuine delight for visitors. Sailing on a boat on the reservoir it is impossible not to admire the indescribable beauty of the mountain landscape in the midst of which a great miracle — a huge reservoir is formed, which has more than 70 km in length and area of 98 km2.
The lake is very popular among tourists as it created large areas for entertaining trips on boats. The middle of the lake is also a great place for viewing the beautiful panorama of the vast gorge, surrounded by snowy peaks on all sides. There are no sandy beaches, due to the fact that it is not a natural lake and rocky slopes down directly to the water. However, in many places along the coast of the reservoir floating houses are moored, from which it is convenient to go down to the water for swimming.
Sari Khosor Waterfall
From a height of 50 meters the cascade of Sari Khosor waterfalls crashes down, scattering around him millions splashes shimmering on the sun with all colors of rainbow.
The waterfall is located in the Vakhsh mountain range in the upstream of the river Surkhob, approximately at the height of 1500 meters above the sea level. This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls of Tajikistan.
Not far from Dushanbe, in the right side of the Varzob river gorge, there is a 30-meter waterfall Guzgarf — the most beautiful waterfalls of the Hissar Mountains. From the highway, an eight-kilometer hiking path leads to the Guzgarf. It takes about 2.5 hours walking along the path. The best time for an excursion to the waterfall is mid-spring, when there is a lush grass and wild tulips bloom brightly in the mountains.
Guzgarf located a few kilometers from the village of Varzob. This picturesque area stretches along the river Varzob — the inflow of Dushanbinka River. The place is prestigious. There are lots of beautiful cottages and mansions.