President of Uzbekistan Shavkat Mirziyoyev drew attention to the water problem at a November 17 meeting in Termez, his spokesman Sherzod Asadov reported.

The Amu Darya and Syr Darya rivers are expected to shrink by 15% over the next 20 years. The country is expanding the use of water-saving technologies, but it is not enough, the head of state expressed his concern.

It was denoted that 80% of land in Surkhandarya region is irrigated with pumps, but 52 pumps surpassed 40 years service life expectancy. As a result, the cost price of water is twice as expensive. 20 million kWh/year of electricity is used inefficiently, and water supply has deteriorated on the additional 20 thousand hectares.

Moreover, 35% of water is lost since half of the 1,700 km long canals have earthen beds.

“The main task should be to deeply instill in the people the idea that ‘water is not free' to turn it into a rule of everyday life together with mahalla activists, intelligentsia, elders and the general public,” the president stated.

Shavkat Mirziyoyev issued an order to develop a two-year program for concreting 47 canals, repair 6 canals with large water losses, restore 90 thousand hectares of land with attracting $60 million worth of investments next year for repairing Sherabad main canal.

As we reported earlier, the water sector was allocated almost two billion dollars (excluding the state debt of 2.54 billion dollars) from the state budget in two years. But the situation with water loss and pumps' condition has only worsened during this time. In 2024, 1.7 trillion more soums and loans for 300 million dollars are planned to be distributed additionally.

Uzbekistan’s agriculture consumed 39 billion cubic meters of water during the year. Of these, 36% (14 billion cubic meters) was lost in canals with earthen beds, the president noted. Another five-six billion cubic meters are lost due to outdated irrigation methods, i.e. over 50% (almost 20 billion cubic meters) of water is used inefficiently.

More than 5,000 pumps are used to irrigate 2.5 million hectares of land and 7 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity is wasted in a year. However, 80% of the pumps are already 35−40 years old and have reached the end of their service life. It is noteworthy that in 2020 more than 60% of pumps were reported to have reached the end of their service life, while water losses were 35−40%. In other words, in three years, instead of modernizing pumps and reducing losses, the situation has only worsened despite the allocated funds.