Karakum Canal

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Karakum Canal


(full name, V. I. Lenin Karakum Canal), a canal in the Turkmen SSR, supplying water from the Amu Darya to the southern part of the republic and the nearly waterless basins of the Murgab, Tedzhen, and a number of small rivers that flow off the Kopetdag.

The first stage of the canal, from the Amu Darya to the Murgab, some 400 km long, went into service in 1959. The first 40 km runs through the widened channel of the Bosaga-Kerki Canal; for 70 km the canal crosses the chain of Kelifskii Uzboi depressions, which have been turned into a series of lakes. The Karakum Canal then crosses the southeastern Karakum. Finally the water of the Karakum Canal is brought by a pressure duct up the Murgab to Turkmen-Kala.

The second stage, from the Murgab to the Tedzhen, is some 140 km long and was built in 1960. Here the Khauz-Khan Reservoir was built with a capacity of 650 million cu m (an increase up to 875 million cu m is envisaged).

The third stage, from the Tedzhen to Geok-Tepe, some 300 km long, runs along the foothills of the Kopetdag (in 1962 it reached Ashkhabad and, in 1967, Geok-Tepe). This stage terminates in the 190 million cu m Kopetdag Reservoir, which is under construction (1973). At Ashkhabad, two reservoirs have been created, with a capacity of 48 million cu m and 6 million cu m. The general development plans for the Karakum Canal envision further lengthening, with a branch from Kazandzhik to the Kizyl-Atrek Canal, for irrigating the desert land in southwestern Turkmenia, and to the Nebit-Dag Canal, for supplying water to the oil-field zone of western Turkmenia.

The Karakum Canal is equipped with a headwork (capacity, over 300 cu m per sec) with a navigable lock, a number of escape and retaining structures, and outlets into the distribution network and reservoirs.

In the area of the canal, a drainage network is being built to eliminate the negative effect on soil fertility of a rise in the groundwater level caused by the delivery of large additional amounts of water.

As a result of completing the Karakum Canal, the water resources of the zone and the delivery of water to the irrigation systems have been significantly increased. The canal meets the water needs of the cities, industry, and agriculture in the zone. The irrigated area in the zone of the Karakum Canal has increased from 170, 000 hectares (ha) to 300, 000 ha; water has been supplied to 5 million ha of outlying pastures. Fishing has developed on the Karakum Canal (catfish, carp, rudd, barbel, silver carp, and grass carp). The canal is navigable for 450 km. The Directives on the Five-year Plan for the Development of the National Economy in 1971–75, put forth by the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU, call for the completion of land development in the zone of the third construction stage of the Karakum Canal and the continuation of construction on this canal.


Mirkin, S. L. Vodnye melioratsii v SSSR i puti ikh razvitiia. Moscow, 1960.
Grinberg, L. M. Karakumskii kanal Ashkhabad, 1963.
Amanov, Kh., and A. Batyrov. “Karakumskii kanal—torzhestvo leninskikh idei orosheniia.” Gidrotekhnika i melioratsiia, no. 6, 1969.