THE FOUR CENTRAL ASIAN states of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are to collaborate for the construction of the Kambarat hydroelectric power plants in Kyrgyzstan.

According to preliminary estimates, the construction of the first Kambarat hydroelectric power plant is expected to cost US$1.7B, and the second is estimated at approximately US$230M. It is expected that Central Asian states, Russia and the World Bank will provide funding for the projects.

According to current proposals, the two dams required for the proposed power plants will be constructed on the Syrdarya river, upstream of the existing Toktogul hydroelectric plant in Kyrgyzstan. Construction of the 215m high Toktogul dam and reservoir was completed in 1978. Four other constant volume hydro power facilities, along with Toktogul, compose the Naryn-Syr Darya cascade.

The proposed plants will enable further optimisation of the operation of the Toktogul reservoir for Uzbek and southern Kazakhstan’s agricultural users as a storage reservoir for water from the Syrdarya during spring and summer. The Central Asian republics are currently operating the water resource system of the Syr Darya basin under allocation schemes developed prior to the collapse of the Soviet Union. The allocations were designed under the assumptions that: the region was a part of one country; the region’s hydro-technical facilities were developed to serve agricultural irrigation; water deficits could be alleviated by an inter-basin transfer from Siberian rivers; upstream countries would be provided with needed wintertime heating fuels; and upstream hydro power developments could be facilitated through the development of the Kambarata dams.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the five republics agreed to continue the water allocations adopted in 1982. However, the primary storage reservoir (Toktogul) is located in, and owned by, the upstream country of the Kyrgyz Republic, and the bulk of the agricultural production is located in the downstream countries of Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The Toktogul reservoir operating regime was modified in 1991 to provide for wintertime power production to replace suspended fuel deliveries. In an attempt to secure an appropriate release regime to satisfy the downstream irrigation needs, agreements have been reached in the past three years to provide for the exchange of wintertime fuel supplies for summertime irrigation releases from Toktogul reservoir.