Engineering Earth pp 1515-1530 | Cite as

The Siberian Water Transfer Scheme

  • Philip Micklin


The 20th century was the era of megaengineering. 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 are a particularly interesting case study of the promise and pitfalls of such schemes. Studied and refined for decades, this grandiose concept was on the verge of implementation in the 1980s when an abrupt change of national policy put it in limbo. 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.


Communist Party Water Transfer Water Transfer Project Soviet Government River Diversion 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of GeographyWestern Michigan UniversityKalamazooUSA

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