My Sitting Rock is Under Water

Before I came to Kyrgyzstan I spent a year at Michigan Tech (represent!) doing coursework toward an eventual, someday, definitely-gonna-happen, master’s degree in civil engineering.  While I was there I took a class called “Water Resources Management.”  And a big part of that class (because I’m sure you’re interested) was how dams are used to regulate reservoir levels.  Managers have rules like, “If we expect such-and-such amount of water coming in over so-and-so amount of time, then we’ll let so much water out through the dam in so much time.”  Basically reservoir and dam managers try to balance environmental, electricity generation, irrigation, and flood control concerns to find the perfect level for the reservoir at different times of the year.

So, I took that class, it was interesting, but I was never near enough to a reservoir for a long enough period of time to see it in action.  As luck and serendipity would have it though, I moved to the other side of the plant just to settle on the banks of a reservoir.  And watching the slow changes in action has been really, really interesting.

I know.  Stay with me here.

The Kirovskaya Reservoir is managed almost exclusively for irrigation downstream in Kazakhstan.  When I got here at the end of the summer, I thought there must be some kind of serious drought going on because you could see how high the banks of the reservoir had been compared to where they were then.  It was dismal.  As it turns out, it was just the end of the growing season.  They’d used up almost the whole reservoir’s worth of water by then.

Now, water being let out of the dam has been minimized all fall and winter and the river has kept flowing in at the same rate.  Months and months of that has swelled the reservoir.  It’s huge.  The surface area has got to be nearly triple what it was back in August.  The walk to it is only a fraction of what it was then too.

And my sitting rock is underwater.

But now that I’ve caught on, I know that my rock should be back above water by late spring or early summer.  In the mean time we can enjoy the excitement of changing water levels.  I’ll keep you posted.

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About Cole Bedford