Growing tensions in Central Asia over water allocation and the absence of reliable information will intensify disputes and may affect national, regional and even international relations. The introduced approach is designed to provide the riparian states of the Zarafshan River with the essential information for effective water resource planning at the basin level and will thus potentially help to resolve the regional tension over water availability. The Zarafshan River is the sole source of potable water supply for much of the region, yet it receives municipal, industrial, and agricultural wastes as it passes through the Leninabad province of Tajikistan, and the Samarkand, Navoi and Buchara main industrial provinces in Uzbekistan. Due to the heavy pollution, there are high incidence rates of water-borne diseases such as typhoid fever, dysentery, viral hepatitis A, and intestinal infections in the provinces along the river corridor. In addition, transfer of organic pollutants through the food chain and drinking water could be impacting agricultural and natural fresh water ecosystems of the river.
This article incorporates a number of modern tools for water resource planning, (i.e. remote sensing for establishing water resources and estimating crop water use, modern hydrological surveying tools to establish water storage, and water resource management tools), into an integrated package that can provide solutions to complex water resource planning in a large basin. A web-based database with online access to visualization maps of hydrological and water quality datasets for main streams, irrigation canals, and collector-drainage system of Zarafshan River Basin has been analyzed by the authors for 2000-2010. The database provides an interactive framework solution for collaboration among those involved in water resources management in the Zarafshan River Basin. The GIS maps of digital coverage of irrigated agriculture area of the Zarafshan River Basin was used as a template for further mapping of physical and chemical water parameters to visualize study results and informative views of the research area. These visualization layers include spatial and temporal salinization, nutrient pollution, heavy metals pollutions and characteristics of potential areas for utilization of marginalized resources along the Zarafshan River and its tributaries The developed Zarafshan River Basin web-based platform can be helpful for finding solutions of a wide range of problems in planning water management by providing access to information and datasets. It provides a simple tool to share collected information, and providing the datasets through the web-based platform will help in building a centralized data repository for this basin. Visual representation of the datasets on maps will facilitate sharing them among interested local communities and researchers. The database will continue to grow with the accumulation of information, datasets and knowledge acquired by research activities and practices of better water resources management for the basin.