Sustainable development and protection of water resources
in the irrigated land of the Ily river delta
(Project TA-MOU-01-CA21-021 funded by the USAID)

Project Productivity

We believe that the project accomplished all of the proposed goals. The obtained results indicate good prospects for future applications of the developed methodology for sustainable management of water resources in the study area.

Future Work

The observed advantages obtained in this research project for the Akadalinsky cultivated area should be expanded to other similar areas with extensive agricultural development facing similar ecological features in Kazakhstan. It will be well worth conducting similar investigations in the Karatal irrigated land in order to plan activities to decrease environmental damage already observed in the local aquatic environment there. The area is located south of Balkhash Lake, and around 150 km from the Akdalinsky land to the west, near Ushtobe village. Rice, onions, sugar beet and alfalfa are grown on a total irrigated land area of 14,000 ha. Water from the Karatal River is used for irrigation. An inefficient irrigation system in place since 1929 has caused the land to be saturated and led to the development of swamping conditions, soil sodification, secondary salinization and contamination of surface and groundwater. Shallow water seepage in Ushtobe village has been monitored. About 50% of the land area is in poor condition [Vesselov, V. A.G. Begaliev and G. Samoukova, 1996. Ecological and reclamation problems of water resources use of the Balkhash Lake Basin. Gilim, Almaty, 687p] due to high groundwater levels and salinity. The main hazards to the environment are an increase in soil content in the upper soil layers and alkalization processes, especially in loamy soils. It was found that changing from rice to alfalfa led to a drastic increase in soil alkalinity. As a result, the negative effect of soil salinity on growing plants increased by 5-10 times. None of the existing theories can explain this phenomenon for the conditions of the irrigated lands of the Ily and Karatal rivers.

The objectives of the proposed research are as follows:

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