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26 June 2008

Euroconsult Mott MacDonald assists Kazakhstan government on landmark flood mitigation scheme

Euroconsult Mott MacDonald is providing technical assistance to the government of Kazakhstan on a landmark scheme that will help prevent the devastation of large parts of the lower Syr Darya valley caused by seasonal floods.

Particularly severe flooding in recent years has displaced thousands of people living in affected areas and caused millions of dollars worth of damage, prompting the Kazakh government to implement a major programme of flood mitigation measures.

The Syr Darya and Northern Aral Sea Project (Synas) Phase II has been developed to address the social, economic and environmental problems caused when an excess of water from the region’s existing reservoirs enters the country’s major natural drainage system, the Syr Darya river basin, and overflows onto land during times when it is not needed for irrigation.

As well as safeguarding the livelihoods of the Syr Darya region’s inhabitants, the scheme aims to encourage environmental revival by rationalising water use in Kazakhstan’s agricultural and fishing industries. These aims form part of the larger project directive, which is to improve institutional capacity in water management in the country.

Synas II reached a key stage this month as construction of the 3 billion m3 Koksaray reservoir got underway. Koksaray, situated on the Syr Darya river basin, will play a crucial role in the flood mitigation process. Forming an integral part of the drainage system that connects Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan, the construction of the reservoir will not only protect vulnerable regions from uncontrolled seasonal flooding but regulate the supply of water and hydroelectricity on a local, national and international transboundary level.

Koksaray was given the green light by the country’s president Nursultan Nazarbayev following a meeting of government officials in March, where Mott MacDonald’s project manager, Johann Jakob, presented the findings of a series of pre-feasibility studies commissioned to determine the impact of constructing the reservoir in the south of the country.

Johann Jakob commented: “This project is critical to ensure the safety, as well as the economic and ecological wellbeing of the population in the Kazakh Syr Darya basin. As part of the pre-feasibility studies, Euroconsult Mott MacDonald was asked to consider conflicting national and local interests in respect to hydropower, agricultural needs, flood protection, safeguarding of the environment and provision of livelihood for the local population to ensure that the need for constructing the reservoir was understood.”

He added: “This is a truly monumental project, the benefits of which will be far-reaching. Koksaray will ease Kazakhstan’s long-standing water management problems by regulating the use of water and energy in the region. Its location on the Syr Darya river basin will protect vulnerable parts of the country from winter floods, and will relieve the load on Kazakhstan’s Chardara reservoir, situated on the border with neighbouring Uzbekistan. As a result, emergency spills of water into the desert will be avoided, and the salvaged water will also reduce summer irrigation deficits in agriculture, including rice, wheat, and fodder drops, that are vital to the country’s economy.”


Notes to editors

1, Euroconsult Mott MacDonald advised on the framework of the prefeasibility studies and related projects. The consultancy has provided technical advice support to the government of Kazakhstan and capacity building of national and transnational water resources institutions in this region since the early 1990s.

2, About the Syr Darya and Northern Aral Sea Project (Synas) Phase II

The Syr Darya and Northern Aral Sea Project (Synas) Phase II pre-feasibility studies have built on work carried out for the Syr Darya and Northern Aral Sea Project (Synas) Phase I and EDIKO projects.

Selected Synas II sub-projects:

1, Additional spillway on Chardara dam

This sub-project reflects the need for increased Chardara dam safety of up to a 1 in 1000 years event. The Chardara dam is currently deprived of emergency spilling opportunities into the Arnasay/Aidarkul depression. For this a 500 m3/s additional spillway is planned.

2, Left bank irrigation off-take at Kzylorda barrage

The repair of the left bank irrigation off-take was planned during Synas I. Failure of the intake structure is a high risk and would lead to large scale flooding of 60 000 ha of irrigable land, including loss of harvest and heavy damage to civil infrastructure.

3, Flood protection dikes in Karmakchi and Kazalinsk district

The plans to rehabilitate and strengthen 50 km of existing dikes and perform riverbed straightening at selected sites in the lower Syr Darya basin is needed to pass winter floods in conjunction with Koksaray reservoir.

4, Road bridge at Birlik near Kazalinsk

This road bridge replaces existing low capacity pontoons. It will be the first in Kazalinsk district and will markedly improve season-independent communication and economy.

5, The development of hydropower at Aklak barrage

The Aklak barrage, a project to regulate the delta lakes, has sufficient hydraulic head to give it potential as a small hydropower development. The optimum installed capacity will be 8 MW distributed on 3 turbines. The main generation period will be winter, where the need for electricity is greatest.

6, Raising of the water level at Saryshiganak bay

Building on Synas I, a further step taken by Synas II is the raising of the water level to 46m in Saryshignak bay, so that fisheries can again reach Aralsk city, albeit with the help of a dredged canal. The measure will be achieved by a dam of 10.3 km length and an adduction canal of 46 km length from Syrdarya through Tushibas lake.

Institutional support has been extended to the planning and calculation of cost for a GMS linked telemetry system on major nodes of the Syr Darya river. This system will enable operators at the planned operational center to monitor the water, even under ice water depth and velocity, in real time. This data reception system will be linked to the Mike 11 hydraulic model and to a proposed Water Management Information system.

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