On 13-14 December 2021, the regular meeting of the Regional Working Group on Water Quality (RWG-WQ) as well as the bilateral meeting of the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan Joint Working Group on Environmental Protection and Water Quality in the Syrdarya River Basin took place in Almaty. The meetings were held in a hybrid format, which helped to bring together water management, environmental and sanitation experts from Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.
During the RWG-WQ meeting, the representatives of the Central Asian countries discussed their priorities and interests in cooperation with international and regional partners in the region. For example, the experts noted that it is necessary to collectively apply for donors support on the regional study on water quality.
In addition, the problem of decay of the material and technical base remains critical. The members of the RWG-WQ note the poor condition of sewage treatment plants and insufficient development of floodplains of rivers. Experts state the need to increase the number of monitoring facilities and the number of determined elements, as well as modernization of equipment.
Representatives of the countries noted the need not only for financial but also for expert support. Capacity building of water quality specialists is in demand. In particular, the experts expressed interest in receiving consultation from international experts on using collector-drainage water for agricultural irrigation.
Representatives of international organizations UNESCO, UNECE, OSCE also spoke at the Regional Work Group meeting and presented their current projects on water quality.
With regard to the meeting of the Kazakhstan-Uzbekistan Joint Working Group, the experts presented the work done in 2021. Thanks to the bilateral partnership, the countries continued coordinated monitoring of the Syrdarya River. It is worth noting that it was the first time that representatives of Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan participated as observers in this bilateral meeting.
Also, international experts Boo Libert and Ruslan Melian participated in the discussion of the joint working group of Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan. They told about the advantages of the basin approach in water quality management on the example of Eastern Europe experience.
RWG-WQ started its activities in 2009 with the support of the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe and the Regional Environmental Center for Central Asia. The working group includes ministries and departments of hydrometeorology, sanitary and epidemiological control, water resources and environment of five Central Asian countries (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan). The main objective of this informal platform is to expand regional dialogue on water quality. In addition, the experts of the RWG-WQ regularly analyze legislation, assess the water quality needs of the countries, and prepare analytical papers for decision-makers. Since 2019, RWG-WQ is supported by the Blue Peace Central Asia (BPCA) initiative of the Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation (SDC), where CAREC acts as the secretariat of the BPCA Dialogue Platform.