Water resources play a crucial role in ensuring the sustainable development of Tajikistan. First of all, this is due to the fact that the country has quite huge freshwater resources.
Water currently serves as the main source of energy in the country – more than 95% of the country's electricity is generated by hydroelectric power plants.
Water resources are used in irrigated agriculture, which provides about 80% of agricultural products, for drinking water supply and sanitation, in industry and fisheries, which play an important role in ensuring food security and public access to quality nutrition.
Water also contributes to the employment of the population. Further development of hydropower, irrigated agriculture, and industry will create new jobs. Irrigated agriculture is particularly important in this context, since it provides more than half of the country's rural population with employment.
In the field of water resources, the Ministry carries out its activities in the following areas:
implementation of the unified state policy and integrated water resources management;
development of proposals to improve the water legislation of the Republic of Tajikistan;
development of strategies, programs, concepts and development plans;
regulation of the use and protection of water resources;
assistance in the rational use and protection of water resources.
coordination of the activities of various ministries and departments dealing with issues related to various aspects of management, use and protection of water resources;
state control and supervision over the safety of hydraulic structures;
maintaining the state water cadastre in terms of water use;
development of project proposals and attraction of investments in the water sector;
and other functions assigned to him by the Regulations of the Ministry.
In Tajikistan, the river flow formation zone accounts for 90% of its territory. The basis of the water resources of the Republic of Tajikistan are glaciers, rivers, lakes, reservoirs and groundwater. In general, the average annual flow of rivers forming in Tajikistan is 64km3/year, including 62.9 km3/year in the Amu Darya River basin and 1.1 km3/year in the Syr Darya basin. Tajikistan's rivers form 55.4% of the average annual surface runoff of the Aral Sea basin.
The average annual precipitation in Tajikistan is about 760 mm, varies from 100 mm in some individual regions of the south of the country to 2400 mm in the highlands of the Pamirs.
The glaciation area of the mountains of the Central Asian Republics is about 17 thousand km2, of which more than 60% is located in Tajikistan. The number of glaciers in the republic is 14509 with a total glaciation area of 11146 km2, which is about 8% of the entire territory of the country.
The largest glacial zone of Tajikistan (60%) are the territories adjacent to the highest peaks – Ismoili Somoni (Communism) (7495 m) and Abu Ali ibn Sina (Lenin) (7134 m), where the largest dendrite glaciers are located – Fedchenko (651.7 km2), Grum-gRzhimailo (143 km2), Garmo (114.6 km2) and dozens of other glaciers with an area of more than 30 km2. Glaciers with an area of more than 1 km2, they make up only 20% of the total number of glaciers, however, about 85% of the total volume of ice is concentrated in them. The total ice reserve in the glaciers is about 845 km3.
Large glaciers of Tajikistan
Glaciers Area, km2 Glacier volume, km3
Fedchenko 651.7 93.6
Grumm Grzhimailo 143 19.84
Viktovsky 50,2 6,882
USSR Academy OF Sciences 48.0 5,242
Nalivkin 45,2 8,588
Byvachiy 37.0 8,05
Fedchenko Glacier is one of the largest glaciers in the world: its length is 77 km, width from 1700 to 3100 m. The glacier originates at the foot of Revolution Peak on the northern slope of the Yazgulem ridge and flows along the eastern slope of the ridge of the Academy of Sciences.
The thickness of the ice in the middle part of the glacier reaches 1000 m, and the total area of glaciation and snowfields is 992 km2. The glacier belongs to the type of complex valley glaciers and is the world's largest valley glacier. The upper end of the glacier is at an altitude of 6280 m, and the lower end is at 2900 m, the height of the snow line is 4650 m.
Rivers are the most sacred wealth of Tajikistan. 947 rivers flow through the country, the total length of which exceeds 28,500 km. The main waterways of the country are the Amu Darya and Syr Darya with their tributaries. The Amu Darya River basin consists of the main river systems: the Panj River with the main tributaries Gunt and Bartang, the Vakhsh River collecting the waters of the Alai Valley and the northern Pamir; the Kafirnigan and Surkhandarya rivers flowing down from the southern slopes of the Hissar ridge. In general, the average annual flow of rivers formed in Tajikistan is 64 km3/year, including 62.9 km3 in the Amu Darya basin and 1.1 km3 in the Syr Darya basin. Tajikistan's rivers provide 55.4% of the average annual surface runoff of the Aral Sea basin.
The Syrdarya River is the second largest river in Central Asia, with a catchment area of 150100 km2. The total length of the Syr Darya from the confluence of the Naryn and Karadarya rivers is 2684 km, and from the sources of the Naryn river 3019 km. The average annual flow of the river is 37.14 km3. The river flows through the northern part of the territory of Tajikistan with a length of 192 km . The major tributaries of the river in Tajikistan are the Isfara, Khojabakirgan, Isfara and Aksu rivers. The total flow formed in the Tajik part of the Syrdarya River basin is insignificant and amounts to about 1.1 km3/year. The main flow of the rivers of the Syr Darya basin is formed on the territory of Kyrgyzstan by about 75%, then the Syr Darya flows through the territory of Uzbekistan and Tajikistan and ends on the territory of Kazakhstan, flowing into the Northern Aral.
Amu Darya River
The Amu Darya River is the largest river in Central Asia, with a catchment area of 199350 km2, a length of 2294 km and an average annual flow of 78.46 km3. Its catchment area includes: Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The major tributaries of the Amu Darya are the Vakhsh, Panj rivers (the confluence of these two rivers forms the Amu Darya) and Kafirnigan, whose share in the total volume of water resources of this basin is 75.5%. The Amu Darya River is important for the existence of millions of people living in the basin. Water resources are used mainly for agriculture, electricity generation, industrial, household and drinking purposes.
Lakes and reservoirs
Tajikistan has about 1300 lakes with a total area of 705 km2. Most lakes are represented by reservoirs with a mirror area of less than 1 km2 and they account for 97.5% of the total number of lakes and only 9% of the total area, which makes them very vulnerable to future anthropogenic and man-made impacts.
The main number of lakes (73%) is concentrated in the Pamir-Alai Mountains in the altitude range of 3500-5000 m. above sea level. Their area is 80% of the total water area of the lakes of the republic. The degree of saturation with lakes of the low-mountain and foothill zones is low, where there are about 30 lakes with a total area of 2.4 km2. Tajikistan's lakes contain more than 46.3 km3 of water, of which 20 km3 are fresh.
Lake Sarez is an amazing place of beauty – a precious pearl, surrounded by the Pamir mountains. The lake was formed on February 18, 1911 after a strong earthquake (9 points), when the Murghab River was dammed as a result of a strong landslide of 2.2 km3, which buried the village of Usoy, while forming a natural dam with a height of 567 m - Usoysky blockage. The water that filled the basin flooded the village of Sarez in the same year, which gave the name to the lake. The length of the lake is about 55.8 km, the depth is about 505 m, the water's edge is 3263 m above sea level, the volume of water is more than 17 km3.
Reservoirs are not natural sources of water resources, but they play an important role in regulating river flow for its rational use in the interests of the economies of river basin countries. This importance of reservoirs becomes more obvious against the background of the ongoing climate change. Reservoirs are of no small importance in preventing floods and protecting national economic facilities from the destructive effects of floods, which are not uncommon in Central Asia.
Tajikistan has built and operates 11 reservoirs for various purposes. The largest of them are: Kayrakkum, located in the northern part, and Nurek - in the central part of Tajikistan. The total water area of all reservoirs is 664 km2, the total volume is 15.344 km3, including a useful 7.63 km3, which is 13% of the average annual flow of the rivers of the Aral Sea basin.
Underground and mineral waters
Renewable groundwater resources in Tajikistan are divided into two parts by their origin: those formed naturally in the mountains and in the catchment area, as well as those formed under the influence of filtration in irrigated areas.
Potential groundwater reserves amount to 18.7 km3/year, while operational reserves are estimated at 2.8 km3/year. The largest reserves of groundwater are in the basins of the rivers: Vakhsh - 4919 million m3/year, Syrdarya - 3579 million m3/year and Kafirnigan - 2505 million m3/year.
Groundwater on the territory of Tajikistan is distributed unevenly, both in area and depth.
Groundwater resources in the Sughd region are estimated at 25.6% of the national value, and operational reserves of 45.8%, respectively, in the Khatlon region - 21.8% and 25.9%, in the Gorno-Badakhshan Autonomous Region - 21.4% and 1.28%, in the districts of republican subordination
More than 200 mineral water sources have been registered on the territory of the republic. In the regions of development of Paleozoic sediments and igneous rocks, 86 natural outlets of carbon dioxide and nitrogen waters were noted; about 70 of them are located in the Pamirs. The most high-grade sources of Obigarm, Khoja Obigarm are located within the Hissar ridge. Mineral springs are also particularly famous: Shaambary, Anzob, Faizabad, Istaravshan, thermal and therapeutic springs: Havatag, Taboshar, Adrasman, Yavroz, Karatag, Babatag, Garmchashma, Aivaj, Bakhmyr, Ellis, etc. Resorts and sanatoriums have been built on the basis of some sources.
In Tajikistan, in general, about 100 sources and deposits of geothermal waters have been identified, which can partially compensate for the deficit in the fuel and energy balance of Tajikistan.
The relief of Tajikistan is mainly foothill and mountainous. This determines significant surface discharges and high drainage from irrigated areas. Backward irrigation technique (by furrows), the presence of stony soils also contribute to an increase in return flow. The return flow in the republic has a significant volume and reaches about 3.5-4.0 km3/year, of which about 3.0 km3 /year is collector - drainage water from irrigated lands and 0.50 km3/year municipal and industrial wastewater. The main part of the return flow, about 3.0 km3/year, flows back into the rivers. More than 0.30 km3/year or 8% of all return water is reused for irrigation.