News FocusGeology

Burdened by Soviet Legacy, Nations Spar Over Water Rights

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Science  18 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5960, pp. 1616
DOI: 10.1126/science.326.5960.1616

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As scientists worry about the prospect of a catastrophic flood from Lake Sarez in the Pamir Mountains (see main text), agricultural communities on the plains below face a very different problem. This arid region in Central Asia has inherited a set of resource blunders made decades ago by the Soviet Union. And since the Soviet collapse in the 1990s, competition for fresh water has increased. The situation might be eased, experts say, if Lake Sarez could be tapped and its surplus water distributed. But that won't happen anytime soon. For now, regional water problems are growing more intense.