Water Use Management

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Water Use Management


the branch of the national economy that studies, records, and plans the comprehensive use of water resources, the protection of surface and under-ground waters from pollution and exhaustion, and the transportation of water to assigned places of consumption. The chief task of water use management is to provide all sectors of the national economy with water in the necessary amounts and of the required quality. According to the character of the use of the water resources, the sectors of the national economy are divided into two groups, water consumers and water users. Water consumers take water, often without replenishing it, from its sources, such as rivers, bodies of water, and water-bearing strata. Water consumers include industry, agriculture, and the municipal economy; they use water for industrial-domestic and agricultural water supply, for irrigation, and for watering. Water users usually do not use the water itself but its energy or the water environment; they use it for such ends as the generation of hydroelectric power, water transportation, and fish breeding.

Different sectors of the national economy make different demands upon the water resources. It is therefore most advisable to solve the questions of water management comprehensively, with consideration of the special features of each sector and of the changes in the regime of underground or surface waters that are brought about by the construction and operation of hydrotechnical installations, changes that disturb the natural relations. The comprehensive use of water resources makes it possible to satisfy in a highly rational manner the water requirements of each sector of the national economy, to combine optimally the interests of all the water consumers and water users, and to save funds for the construction of installations.

An example of a successful comprehensive solution of water management problems is the Moscow Canal (built in 1932-37), which has facilitated the supply to Moscow of drinking and industrial water. The canal is a major deepwater transportation route that stocks the rivers and canals in the Moscow region and that opens the way to obtaining hydroelectric power; the water reservoirs of the canal are widely used as places of recreation and tourism.

But the demands of different sectors may also be in conflict with each other. Thus, the expansion of the areas of irrigated lands in the Amu Darya basin, the intake of Amu Darya waters for the Bol’shoi Karakum Canal, and the construction of water reservoirs on the tributaries of the Amu Darya, especially of the Nurek Reservoir, will almost completely stop discharge into the Aral Sea, which may lead to a deterioration of the fishing conditions there. However, the Bol’shoi Karakum Canal itself, in addition to irrigating cotton fields, is a water-supply and water-storage artery and serves fish cultivation; areas for recreation and sports are being created on its shores. The Nurek Hydroengineering Complex (on the Vakhsh) serves mainly for irrigation and electric power generation. Plans for the integrated mastery of water resources and projects for the use of bodies of water must be component parts of the state plans for the development of the national economy of the USSR and of the Union republics.

Work on protecting waters from pollution by industrial and domestic wastes is an absolute duty of water use management. Purification installations are built and rebuilt at plants and factories; new enterprises are accepted for commissioning only if they have devices for purifying the waters dumped into rivers and bodies of water.

The water resources of the USSR provide water for all the sectors of the national economy. The annual outflow of the rivers is 4,714 cu km; of this amount, 4,350 cu km are formed within the bounds of the mainland part of the country and 330 cu km come in from adjacent countries. The most valuable part of the total river discharge, which becomes subsoil and underground waters, amounts to 1,020 cu km; the rest flows out to sea. The national economy of the USSR uses 226 billion cu m (1965 data) of water a year, that is, only 5 percent of the total annual runoff. More than 50 percent of this amount is expended by the national economy, almost one-third for domestic and industrial water supply. The local sources can prove insufficient in view of several factors—the rising demands made by the national economy upon water management, the discrepancy between water resources and the demand for them in individual regions, and the unfavorable distribution of the water flow by years and seasons. It becomes necessary to regulate the flow of major and average rivers (for which purpose reservoirs are built), to redistribute the flow among basins, and to transport water great distances. For instance, the waters of the Amu Darya are transferred through the Bol’shoi Karakum Canal into the Murgab and Tedzhen basins; the commissioning of the IrtyshKaraganda Canal has laid the foundations for the transfer of the waters of the rivers of the Arctic Ocean into the dry regions of Kazakhstan; and plans are being drawn up for directing the waters of the Pechora and the Vychegda through the Kama and the Volga into the Caspian Sea.

The structure of water management in the USSR is very complex. The Union Republican Ministry of Land Reclamation and Water Use Management, which was set up in 1965, considers questions relating to the organization of the development of water management and the operation of hydrotechnical installations and systems, as well as ensuring the comprehensive use and protection of the country’s water resources. The local water management bodies have a double subordination: to republic ministries and to the councils of ministers of the Union republics. The formation of water use management as a sector of the national economy is still not complete (1971) and will continue with the establishment of economic-accountability relations with other sectors of the national economy and the organization of a unified centralized administration of them. The development of water management and the protection of the state water fund of the USSR have an important place in the Directives of the Twenty-fourth Congress of the CPSU on the Five-year Plan for the Development of the National Economy of the USSR for 1971-75. The plans of USSR capital construction for water management provide for the centralized allocation of capital investments to the construction of multipurpose water management installations, installations created to supply water to several sectors. The relations between water use management and other sectors that arise in connection with the use of waters are regulated by the water legislation of the USSR. The records of water resources and all the necessary information on the resources are concentrated in the water cadastre.


Materialy Maiskogo (1966 g.) plenuma TsK KPSS. Moscow, 1966.
Bakhtiarov, V. A. Vodnoe khoziaistvo i vodokhoziaistvennye-raschety. Leningrad, 1960.
L’vovich, M. I. Vodnye resursy budushchego. Moscow, 1969.
Zuzik, D. T. Ekonomika vodnogo khoziaistva, 2nd ed. Moscow, 1966.
Askochenskii, A. N. Oroshenie i obvodnenie v SSSR. Moscow, 1967.
Ovsiannikov, N. G. Vodnye resursy—nashe bogatstvo. Moscow, 1968.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.