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Natural dam needs man-made solution

UK consultant Gibb has announced that it will be working on the Lake Sarez risk mitigation project in Tajikistan with the Swiss consultancy Stucky.

The 60km long, Lake Sarez, which is 3300m asl and contains 17km3 of water, is held behind the Usoy natural dam which was created by an earthquake-induced landslide in 1911. Failure of the dam would be catastrophic and could create a mud wave along the Bartang, Pyandzh and Amudarya rivers. This would eventually reach the Aral Sea and inundate areas in Tajikistan, the Islamic Republic of Afganistan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan; endangering the lives of 27,000 people in Bartang and Pyandzh valley.

Despite this threat, conditions at Lake Sarez and the Usoy dam have not been monitored for the last ten years. The preparation of a monitoring programme and an early warning system will be one of the most important tasks of the mitigation project. Feasibility studies for engineering solutions that could be implemented to achieve a sustainable level of safety at Usoy will also be part of the project.