Staunton, July 20 – Water levels have fallen in the Caspian over the last century and in recent years their decline, accompanied by siltification, has had a serious negative impact first of all on Kazakhstan but also on other littoral states. But a debate about what will happen next is complicating decision making.
German and Russian specialists say that the water levels of the Caspian will continue to fall throughout the coming decades and will be nine to 18 meters lower by the end of this century, an apocalyptic outcome that all the littoral states must cooperate to limit (turanpress.kz/regiony/8097-kaspii-ekologicheskaja-i-socialnaja-katastrofa.html).
But some Russian scholars, using different environmental models, argue that the water level of the Caspian, which has been falling rapidly in recent decades, will begin to rise again in 2030 and that there is thus no need for the kind of radical steps that those who predict more dramatic declines are calling for.
Because Kazakhstan has already suffered from the drying up of the Aral Sea and because its coastal area, shallower to begin with, has been most affected by the recent declines, scholars and politicians in that country tend to accept the Western predictions rather than the Russian ones and are calling for radical steps.
Among these are efforts to limit population growth along the shoreline, expand dredging operations in Kazakhstan rivers which flow into the Caspian, and reach agreements with Moscow on the flow of the Volga which provides much of the water to maintain the level of theCaspian Sea.
There have been some agreements between Astana and Moscow, but so far however there is little evidence as far as the Kazakhs can see that the Russian optimism is justified. Instead, they fear that they will face “a second Aral” in the case of the Caspian, something that would be a disaster not only for Kazakhstan but for the region.