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Environment and health
Water quality in rivers is good. Rivers are fed by glacial melt, which has a low salt concentration (0.04–0.15 g/litre) and low pollution level. Observations in all basins show a low concentration of nitrates, organic matter and nutrients (less then 1 mg/litre). There are cases of wastewater pollution; the reasons are:
- incorrect storage and use of fertilizers, chemicals, industrial waste;
- non-observance of the sanitary code;
- improper technical conditions for sewerage systems, ineffective cleaning of agriculture, cattle-breeding and industrial effluent.
About 90 percent of all drinking water supplied by centralized systems is groundwater, which mostly meets standards for drinking water quality.
Nuclear tailing dump is a very serious problem in Kyrgyzstan not fully solved yet and threatening the whole region.
In 2005, irrigation caused salinization of an estimated 49 503 ha. In 1994, about 60 000 ha were considered saline by Central Asia standards (toxic ions exceeded 0.5 percent of total soil weight). In addition there were 60 000 ha, divided into 34 200 ha moderately saline and 25 800 ha highly saline, a further 63 400 ha were slightly saline. In the Chu river basin, about 15 percent of the irrigated area is considered saline, while this figure falls to 5 percent in the Syr Darya river basin. In 2005, irrigation caused waterlogging on 35 399 ha.
In 2006, according to the Land Reclamation Cadastre 85 percent of the total irrigated area is in good condition, 6 percent in satisfactory condition and 9 percent in unsatisfactory condition. Unsatisfactory condition is caused by high groundwater level (37 percent), soil salinity (52 percent) and a combination of the two (11 percent). Poorly functioning vertical drainage systems have caused land deterioration on reclaimed land.
Harvest losses are as follows: 13–17 percent on low saline land, 32–37 percent on medium saline land and 60–64 percent on highly saline land. On average, around 27 percent of harvest is lost on saline land and up to 38 percent on land where the groundwater level is high.
Land is removed from agricultural rotation also because of the high level of soil pollution, caused by toxic waste from the mineral resource industry. Mercury, antimony, mining and smelting industries pollute the surrounding territories with heavy metals. The pollution level from heavy metals near mining and smelting enterprises exceeds by 3 to 10 times the maximum permissible concentration. High-level pollution may be controlled in the largest plants, along traffic lines and near waste disposal.
In 2005, 122 800 inhabitants were affected by water-related diseases.