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In 1960, the USSR decided to divert some of the water of the two large rivers of Central Asia, the

Amu Darya in the south and the Sir Darya in the northeast, to develop irrigated crops in the Central Asian desert. Central Asia began to grow rice, melons, cereals and, most especially, cotton. The USSR wanted become one of the world's leading producers of cotton, and succeeded, at present, Uzbekistan is one of the biggest exporters of cotton producers in the world.

The quality of the water channels was not very good, was wasted about 75% of the water. Between 1961 and 1970, the Aral Sea level fell by an average of 20 cm per year. In 1970, the rhythm of decrease in the level nearly tripled, reaching 50 to 60 cm per year. In 1980, the sea level was reduced an average of 80 to 90 cm each year.

The surface of the Aral Sea has now been reduced by 60%, and its volume by almost 80%. In 1960, the Aral Sea was the fourth largest lake in the world, with an approximate area of 68,000 km , and a volume of 1100 km . In 1998, it had fallen to 28,687 km , the eighth lake in the world. During the same interval, the salinity of the sea has increased from about 10 g / l to about 45 g / l.

The progressive decrease in the water level over dividing the lake into two separate volumes of water, the North Aral Sea and the South Aral Sea.

In the summer of 2003, the South Aral Sea was disappearing faster than anticipated. The surface is now just 30.5 meters above sea level, and water has a salinity 2.4 times that of the ocean. Possible solutions They have been proposed different solutions to the problems caused by the loss of water of the Aral Sea. These include: Improved quality of irrigation channels. Installation of desalination plants. Imposition charges on farmers for the use of river water. Introduction of alternative cotton species whose cultivation requires less water. Transfer of water from the glaciers of Siberia to replace the water lost in the Aral. Using less chemicals in the process of cotton.

In August 2008 they created the first environmental NGO Uzbek, the Ecological Movement of Uzbekistan, which aims, among other objectives, to recover the Aral Sea.