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In 2006, water withdrawal was an estimated 8 007 million m3, of which about 93 percent was withdrawn by agriculture, 3 percent by municipalities and 4 percent by industry (Table 7 and Figure 1). Primary and secondary surface water and groundwater account for 92.4 percent and 3.8 percent respectively of total water withdrawal. Direct use of irrigation drainage water represents 3.7 percent and direct use of treated wastewater 0.002 percent (Figure 2). In 1994, water withdrawal was an estimated 10 100 million m3. In some basins (Syr Darya, Chu, Talas) there was a fairly severe water shortage, while in others (Amu Darya, Issyk-Kul, southeastern) there was a surplus. About 90 percent of all drinking water supplied by centralized systems is provided by groundwater.
Reduced water withdrawal from 1994 to 2006 may be explained by:
- reduced canal capacity because of lack of means for cleaning;
- acute recession in industrial production;
- insufficient means of peasant farmers who are unable to cultivate their irrigated land;
- incentive to use irrigation water economically with the introduction of payment for water use;
- changes in crops from cotton, sugar beet, tobacco, maize, grasses to those having a shorter vegetative period (grain crops).