Russia Shares Dam Safety Knowledge

Confidence in the government waned during this month's wildfires, but officials from several neighboring Central Asian countries were in Moscow on Monday to start a weeklong course about maintaining hydroelectric dams.

High-level officials from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan were in Moscow on Monday to begin a week of training by Russian Federation experts about maintaining and managing hydroelectric dams. The training course is part of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe's "Capacity-building for cooperation on dam safety in Central Asia" project and was developed by the Russian Research Centre on the Safety of Hydro-technical Installations under the Scientific and Research Institute of Energy Facilities.

Hundreds of dams and reservoirs built 40-50 years ago are in use in Central Asia. "This infrastructure is of great importance for the economy of the region —- it contributes to seasonal and long-term regulation of river flows for drinking water supply, industrial water uses, irrigation, and hydropower. It also serves as an efficient means to address floods and droughts," according to UNECE. "However, aging dams and lack of funding for their adequate maintenance, coupled with population growth in flood plains downstream from the dams, represent increased risks to life, health, property, and the environment. The eventual failure of a dam could have disastrous consequences in downstream regions and countries."

The UNECE dam safety project, done in cooperation with the International Fund for Saving the Aral Sea, helps Central Asian countries with this challenge. UNECE says the project has produced a model law on dam safety and a draft regional agreement for cooperation.

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