On September 19, President of the Republic of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev held a meeting on the issues of further reforming the water resources management system and improving the efficiency of water use.
Today, water shortage problem is becoming more acute in the world. In Uzbekistan, special attention is paid to this issue, measures are taken for rational use of water. The Ministry of Water Resources was organized to improve the management system of the sphere.
Current measures for water use and water resources conservation are provided in Agricultural Development Strategy until 2030, which is being developed on behalf of the Head of the state.
Issues of reduction of losses in irrigation and efficient use of allocated budget funds were discussed at the meeting.
Currently, 46 billion cubic meters of water is used to irrigate 3.2 million hectares of land, of which only 60 percent reaches the fields. One of the reasons is that only 23 percent of irrigation networks, the total length of which is 180 thousand kilometers, has a concrete coating, and even these have not been updated for 30-35 years. Another reason is that 98 percent of acreage is irrigated according to the old method, the crops are not placed optimally. No agency imposes strict requirements for effective use of water, its accounting, the use of water-saving technologies in irrigation networks.
In this regard, the need for developing an improved system of crops placement based on the provision of water to regions and possibility of using saving technologies was noted.
The Ministry of Water Resources was instructed to implement smart water system at 61 water facilities at the expense of South Korean grant for 7 million USD, which allows monitoring water consumption in real time. Next year, the system will be implemented at 120 sites and by 2023 at 300 sites. The Ministry of Energy was instructed to ensure the connection of 1.7 thousand pumping stations to the system of automated control of electricity consumption by the end of 2020. The necessity of wide application of modern information technologies in general was noted.
Time requires the introduction of market mechanisms in this sphere. Today, acreage, orchards and vineyards, even those that bring high profits, receive water at the expense of the state. In this regard, the need for transferring 50 water facilities in 22 districts to the private sector in 2020 was emphasized.
Special attention was paid to the issues of development of water science and innovation, ensuring their integration with production.
In order to put into practice the scientific developments of young scientists, formation of students design skills, stimulate innovation for the sphere with involvement of foreign experience and specialists, instructions were given on organization of design group at Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Mechanization of Agricultural Engineers.
It was noted that within the framework of implementation of major projects it is necessary to assign research staff and talented students to the objects for introduction of scientific-innovative developments into practice, assist them in training abroad.
Wide introduction of water-saving technologies is one of the key tasks in the sphere. Analysis of effectiveness of such technologies on the example of Fergana region showed that farmers’ spending on water supply decreased by 50 percent, on fertilizers – by 37 percent, on fuel – by 35 percent.
It was instructed to introduce water-saving technologies on 200 thousand hectares next year and 1 million hectares of acreage by 2025.
Currently, water management organizations have 4 thousand water wells, each of which serves 30 hectares of land, up to 40-50 million UZS are spent for their activities per year. Irrational use of water from wells for irrigation leads to a decrease in the resource of underground sources. In this regard, responsible officials pointed to the need for transferring water consumers from wells to the use of water-saving technologies and alternative energy sources in 2020.
Currently, the functions of customer and contractor for construction, reconstruction and operation of water facilities are carried out by one agency – the Ministry of Water Resources. This can have a negative impact on healthy competition. For this reason, the need was noted for withdrawing 57 contracting companies from the Ministry and merge them into a separate joint stock company.
It was noted that activities of water consumer associations should also be reviewed, turning them into professional structures capable of attracting investments, grants and other funds, having a fleet of special equipment and providing qualitative services to farmers.
Responsible officials reported on the issues considered at the meeting.