Second Ambassador’s Water Expert Program Successfully Targets Nexus of Irrigation, Hydropower, and Water Optimization Techniques

On December 1, Embassy Tashkent and the U.S. Department of Interior co-sponsored the second of three events, designed to focus deeply on specific issues around water management.  The session attracted 47 attendees, representing the Tashkent Institute of Irrigation and Agricultural Mechanization Engineers, the Scientific Research Institute of Irrigation and Water Problems, the Ministry of Water Resources, the Ministry of Agriculture, and the UzSpace Agency.

The AWEP presentation started with a focus on “Deficit Irrigation,” led by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resource Conservation Service Brent Draper.  Draper used simple analogies to water in cups to represent how Uzbekistanis could manage water in good, bad, and regular watershed seasons, how to use crop rotation with pastureland to improve yields and save water in bad seasons, and how to selectively salvage harvests in extremely dry (drought) conditions.

After Draper’s presentation, Thomas Mosier of the Idaho National Laboratory spent time examining key issues in water management from canalization to piping, the cost of improving water transportation, the relationship to hydropower, and the value of irrigation modernization for specific community and regional needs.

The U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest Laboratory’s (PNNL) Bo Saulsbury took a deeper dive into the benefits of hydropower for irrigation modernization, the value of public/private partnerships in modernization projects, and used a series of examples of actual projects to teach Uzbekistani participants how the U.S. had successfully converted theory to practice.

James Kershaw, an IT expert with PNNL reviewed the use of a specialized irrigation software tool “IrrigationVIZ” that uses high level, pre-engineering analysis to support irrigation planning and reduce seepage and evaporation. The tool, which may be made available to Uzbekistani counterparts upon official release, is primarily used in the United States by irrigation districts to manage water resources using government temperature measurements, soil conditions, river flow measurements, and national data sets to create a customized model for local developments.

At the third AWEP event, scheduled for December 15, experts will discuss the use of GIS analysis and monitoring techniques using satellite technology to get a better grasp of water levels for crop and overall water management.