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No. 11 (248) July 2014


The 12th International Drainage Workshop organized by the International Commission on Irrigation and Drainage was hosted by the Russian Committee on Irrigation and Drainage together with the Ministry of Agriculture of the Russian Federation on 23-26 June 2014 in the Pushkino town, suburb of Saint Petersburg.

The workshop was attended by more than 100 experts from 23 countries, who introduced their works, problems, and achievements. The workshop opening was welcomed by Mr. P.V. Semenov, Deputy Minister of Agriculture of the Russian Federation, and Mr. Gao Zhanyi, ICID President.

The workshop was dedicated to a series of specific issues, in particular: meeting of the European Working Subgroup for Drainage of Wetlands; meeting of the ICID European Regional Working Group; roundtable on the issues of reclamation of the North-Western district. Its work was broken down into the five following sections:

  1. New equipment and state-of-the-art technology of drainage construction on wetlands;
  2. Reclaimed land use efficiency and socioeconomic aspects of the use of arid lands;
  3. Drainage structures and calculation methods;
  4. Integrated approach to resolve drainage control and environmental conservation;
  5. Use of drained lands for economic purposes.

The reports by the Academicians of the Russian Academy of sciences Prof. N.N. Dubinka and Mr. N.G. Kovalev as well as by the Chairman of the Russia Union of Water and Land Reclamation Professionals Mr. N.A. Sukhoy threw light on the quite difficult situation with drainage and land reclamation works in Russia. More than 3.5 mln ha of the reclaimed lands in Russia are not used. Despite the Land Fertility Improvement Program is the most effective and in the previous year covered 3.5 mln ha of lands, the level of the use of irrigated and drained lands in Russia remains much lower as compared to that in the early 1990s. Vast areas of the reclaimed lands changed for the worse because of insufficient maintenance of drainage systems after the 1990s. At present, the Government adopted the program for reclamation of lands in poor condition by improving its drainage conditions and soil fertility with the view of addressing the tasks set by the Russian Federation Food Security Doctrine. Dramatic lack of operation equipment for execution of repair and maintenance works was reported. According to the All-Russian Research Institute for Irrigation and Agricultural Water Supply Systems “Raduga”, water availability comes only to 50%. The latest renewal of land reclamation machinery fleet was in 2003. The situation with the pumping stations provided for the implementation of the Federal Target Program for Reclamation of Agricultural Lands for the Period 2014-2020 is even worse.

ICID President Mr. Gao Zhani delivered interesting report demonstrating the role of irrigation and drainage in the world in the resolution of food problems and at the same time described existing negative challenges occurring in the land reclamation practices.

Representatives of Turkey and Iran delivered reports on the irrigation and drainage condition in their countries, which are considerably impressive especially in terms of the scale of the establishment of irrigation associations. The major part of the works related to everyday operation and maintenance of irrigation and drainage system facilities is carried out by irrigation associations and cooperatives.

Reporters from France spoke on the challenges that arose recently in the drainage management system in their country in connection with the issue of a new law in the European Union and appropriate law of France in January 2012. Many specialized firms reluctantly make for additional development of drainage. Collective efforts through water users’ associations facilitate establishing a dialogue between farmers and water organizations.

Prof. D.V. Kozlov described the big problem related to the outlooks of the human resource development in the field of land reclamation in Russia. He demonstrated the directions for science development and approaches to the problems of implementation of advanced technologies in farming.

Interesting works were presented by the Agrophysical Institute together with the Telecommunications Institute of Saint Petersburg aiming at the improving water-balance stations which we formerly widely used to assess water requirements, as well as the agricultural land monitoring system and the system of subsurface drainage system monitoring by using unmanned flying vehicles (drones). Despite promising outlook of this method, the work associated with it is quite limited because of its high cost. The workshop participants were shown the unique complex of facilities by means of which one can control and prevent possible floods at the mouth of the Neva River. Considering the long length of the storm fetch in the Gulf of Finland and deep depth down to the lip of the facility, 16 m, the main facility, which almost completely closes the upstream part of the Neva river mouth, is made from two pivot-bearing metal composite structures weighing about 5 ton each. This facility is rather unique and in terms of parameters it vastly superior to similar facilities that close the upstream part of the Maas river mouth in the Netherlands.

The participants had an opportunity to get familiar with the work of the leading land-reclamation enterprise, “Prinevenskiy” Closed Joint-Stock Company which with 2000 ha of irrigated lands is the major supplier of meat, milk, grain, and vegetables for Saint Petersburg. The company has a large set of land reclamation equipment that was demonstrated to the workshop participants. This allows ensuring proper condition of reclaimed lands.

The reports by Messrs. Sh.Kh. Yakubov and P.D. Umarov introduced the Central Asian experience.

On 25 June, the keynote statements were made, the workshop closing ceremony took place and the Declaration was adopted.

It should be noted as a whole that the theoretical and practical experience of drainage work in the world is considerably behind the current land reclamation problems and, moreover, the rate of progress, amount of financing, and number of specialists involved remains short of the scope of such work carried out in the 1970s and 1980s.

The representative of the Iran National Committee on Irrigation and Drainage (NCID) invited those present to the next, 13th Drainage Workshop to be held in March 2017 in the Akhvaz city, center of the Khuzestan province of Iran. In his statement, the Iran NCID representative reported on the construction of new drainage system in Iran and use of drainage on an area of more than 240 ths ha, as well as on the sightseeing places in the Khuzestan province.