Tajikistan Negotiating to Resolve Water Feud, Ambassador Says

Tajikistan, which will host a United Nations summit on international water in August, is negotiating with neighbors to end a feud in the Amu Darya River basin where it plans to build the tallest hydroelectric dam.

Efforts by the Central Asian nation to strike an agreement over energy and irrigation water use have so far been unsuccessful, Sirodjidin Mukhridinovich Aslov, Tajikistan’s ambassador to the United Nations, said today at a meeting at the UN in New York. He didn’t name Uzbekistan, a downstream cotton and melon producer that’s Tajikistan’s sole supplier of natural gas, a heating and power plant fuel.

Winter blackouts affect 70 percent of Tajikistan, where electricity accounts for most heating and make completion of the Rogun dam essential, Aslov said through an interpreter during the water cooperation conference. Uzbekistan has been worried by a shortage of irrigation water, particularly over the estimated two years needed to fill the dam’s reservoir, according to the Central Asia-Caucasus Institute of Johns Hopkins University.

“We will not leave our neighbors without water,” Aslov said. “We would be unable to do it.”

The tributary spanned by the dam accounts for 30 percent of the Amu Darya’s flow, he said.

Tajikistan will present an analysis of Central Asian water supply and use at the August UN conference in its capital Dushanbe, Rahmat Bobokalonov, Tajikistan’s minister of land reclamation and water resources, said at the meeting.

The UN General Assembly declared 2013 the International Year of Water Cooperation three years ago after estimating 1 billion of the 7 billion people on Earth live where water is scarce and another 500 million where scarcity is increasing.

Energy production accounts for 15 percent of global freshwater use, second to agriculture, according to the International Energy Agency. While most of that water is returned after cooling power plants, water consumption by energy is expected to rise 85 percent by 2035, mostly through increased production of biofuels, according to the agency.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jim Polson in New York at jpolson@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Susan Warren at susanwarren@bloomberg.net

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