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UK consultant to study Aral Sea

Gibb, the UK-based engineering consultant, has won the dam and reservoir management component of the Aral Sea water resources and environment management project. Part of a larger project of the five central Asian states, the Aral Sea scheme aims to address the root causes of overuse and degradation of the international waters of the Aral Sea basin.

Comprising the Amu Darya and Syr Dayra river basins, the Aral Sea basin lies at the heart of the Eurasian continent, at the crossroads from Europe to Asia and the Middle East to the Far East. The majority of the basin is shared by the five republics of the former Soviet Union (southern Kazakstan, southern Kyrgyz Republic, most of Turkmenistan and all of Tajikistan and Uzbekistan), while the remainder is situated on the territories of Afghanistan and Iran.

The project is divided into dam and reservoir management; water and salt management; public awareness; transboundary water monitoring; wetlands restoration; and project management.

Under the dam safety component, assessments of a selection of dams and storage reservoirs in the Aral Sea basin will be made. Priority plans for maintenance, improvement and development will also be established and supported by pilot operations for improved dam safety.

Gibb, working closely with subconsultant SMEC of Australia, is heading a team of 24 international and regional dam specialists, mechanical engineers, hydrologists and seismic specialists to complete the work.

The project is expected to be completed by mid 2001. Mike Hart, vice chairman of Gibb, said: ‘This is an exciting project for us, and continues our involvement with water resources improvement in the area. The dam safety and reservoir management package covers a number of issues. Early priority is being given to safety reviews at large dams.’