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Water withdrawals increased regularly until the mid-1980s. Over the past two decades withdrawals have slightly decreased in the agricultural sector mainly because of the adoption of water conservation methods, and in industry as a result of the sector’s decline since independence.
Total annual water withdrawal fluctuated between 19.7 and 28.8 km3 during 1995–2002 (UNDP, 2003).
In 2010, total water withdrawal was an estimated 21.143 km3, of which 14.002 km3 or 66 percent was for agriculture (including irrigation, livestock and aquaculture), 0.878 km3 or 4 percent for municipal, 6.263 km3 or 30 percent for industry (Table 4 and Figure 1). Of total withdrawal, 18.959 km3 or 89.7 percent is for primary and secondary surface water, 1.029 km3 or 4.9 percent, primary and secondary groundwater, 0.853 km3 or 4 percent desalinated water, 0.194 km3 or 0.9 percent direct use of treated wastewater, and 0.108 km3 or 0.5 percent direct use of agricultural drainage (Figure 2).
Water from the Syr Darya, Ili, Chu, Talas and Irtysh rivers is mainly used for irrigation. The most intensive use is in Kyzylorda, South Kazakhstan and Almaty provinces, where 90 percent of overall irrigation water is used (UNDP, 2003).
Central heating energy enterprises, metallurgy and the oil industry account for the bulk of industrial water withdrawal. Three provinces use 90 percent of all industrial water: Karagandy (43 percent), Pavlodar (41 percent) and East Kazakhstan (6 percent) (UNDP, 2003).