The Aral Sea pp 381-404 | Cite as

The Siberian Water Transfer Schemes

  • Philip MicklinEmail author
Part of the Springer Earth System Sciences book series (SPRINGEREARTH, volume 10178)


The twentieth century was the era of mega-engineering thinking. This was a worldwide phenomenon, but perhaps had its clearest expression in the Soviet Union, a nation with a well-developed ideology promoting man subduing nature for purported human betterment. Soviet plans to transfer huge amounts of water long distances from Siberian rivers to Central Asia were initially conceived, during the Stalinist era, as a way to fundamentally transform the physical environment of this region. During the period 1960 to the mid 1980s, these projects were primarily seen as the best means to provide more water for irrigation expansion and, secondarily, as a way to provide more water to the Aral Sea. After several decades of intense scientific study and engineering development, a final design for Siberian water transfers was on the verge of implementation when an abrupt change of national policy in 1985–1986 put it in on hold for the foreseeable future. The plan foundered owing to Russian nationalist opposition, enormous costs, a changing political environment, and the threat of significant environmental damage. The collapse of the USSR has probably doomed the project although it continues to be promoted by Central Asian governments and even some prominent Russians as a means to bring back the Aral Sea.


Davydov Plan Siberian water diversion Siberian water transfer Ob Irtysh NAWAPA 


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© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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