Aral Sea

Photo: NASA 2011

Since 1994, our team from the Center for Research in Water Resources (CRWR) at The University of Texas at Austin has been engaged in a program of developing water resource allocation tools (optimization-based ) for use in the Aral Sea Basin of Central Asia. This research has been funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) Environmental Policy and Technology (EPT) project, USAID Environmental Policies and Institutions for Central Asia (EPIC) Program, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the US National Committee on Scientific Hydrology. Some of the results of this research are available at the links listed below. 

     I have worked on many projects in the Syr Darya in the Aral Sea basins of Central Asia, and lived there with my family in 1998-2000. 

     For more information, contact Dr. Daene McKinney at:

High Mountain-Glacial Watershed Program

The aim of the High Mountain-Glacial Watershed Program is to increase awareness for the critical importance of high mountain glacial watersheds globally in the context of climate change, highland-lowland interactions, and ecosystem services.  This will be achieved through the development of innovative high mountain tools, approaches, and the establishment of a unique high mountain Community of Practice.  The Program will create enabling conditions necessary for local communities, governments, and stakeholders living in and/or dependant on high glacial watersheds to (a) build resilience to the impacts of climate change, (b) advance scientific knowledge of high mountain systems and processes, and (c) increase global awareness and support for the critical importance of high mountain glacial environments.  

Click here for more information

Photos of Central Asia

Some Interesting Things

Aral Sea Haiku

Afghanistan and Persia 1856

Bukhara 1838

Central Asia Institute (Johns Hopkins) the aral sea basin

Waiting for the Sea - Amazing Paintings! by Carla Moss  

Hydrology and Environment: Central Asia Research 

Central Asia Regional Water, Environment and Energy Agreements

EPIC Modeling Software


Ambec, S., A. Dinar, and D. McKinney. Water Sharing Agreements Sustainable to Reduced Flows, J. of Environmental Economics and Management (2013),

 Teasley, R. L. and D. C. McKinney, Calculating the Benefits of Transboundary River Basin Cooperation: The Syr Darya Basin, J. Water Resour. Planning and Management. 137(6):481-491, 2011

Schluter, M., A. Savitsky, D. McKinney and H. Lieth, Optimizing long-term water allocation in the Amudarya river delta – A water management model for ecological impact assessment, Environmental Modeling and Software, 20(5): 529-545, 2005.

Cai, X., D.C. McKinney, and L. Lasdon, An Integrated Hydrologic-Agronomic-Economic Model for River Basin Management, J. Water Resour. Planning and Management, 129(1):4-17, 2003.

McKinney, D.C., and X. Cai, Linking GIS and Water Resources Management Models: An Object-Oriented Method, Environmental Modeling and Software, 17(5):413-425, 2002.    

Cai, X., D.C. McKinney, and L. Lasdon, A Framework for Sustainability Analysis in Water Resources Management and Application to the Syr Darya Basin, Water Resour. Res., Vol. 38, No. 6: 21/1-21/14, 2002.    

Cai, X., McKinney, D.C., and M. Rosegrant, Sustainability Analysis for Irrigation Water Management in the Aral Sea Region, Agricultural Systems, 76(3): 1043-1066, 2003. 

Antipova, E., A. Zyryanov, D.C. McKinney, and A.G. Savitsky , Optimization of Syr Darya Water and Energy Uses, Water International, 27(4): 504-516, 2002.    

Books & Book Chapters

Dinar, A., S. McCaffery, S. Dinar, and D. McKinney, Bridges Over Water: Understanding Transboundary Water Conflict, Cooperation and Negotiation, World Scientific Publishing Company, 2007 (second edition 2013).

Teasley, R. L. and D. C. McKinney, Water Resources Management in the Rio Grande/Bravo Basin Using Cooperative Game Theory, in Transboundary Water Management -- A Multidisciplinary Approach, J. Ganoulis, J. Fried and A. Aureli (eds), Wiley-VCH, Weinheim, 2011

Cooperative Management of Transboundary Water Resources in Central Asia, in In the Tracks of Tamerlane-Central Asia’s Path into the 21st Century, D. Burghart and T. Sabonis-Helf (eds.), National Defense University Press, pp. 187-220, 2004

Conference Proceedings

McKinney, D.C., , Proceedings, Beirut Water Week, October 2010 Management of Shared Water Bodies: The Rio Grande and the Aral Sea, 

Teasley, R. L., and D. C. McKinney, Cooperative Game Theory for Transboundary River Basins: The Syr Darya, Proc. EWRI World Environmental and Water Resources Conference, Tampa, FL, May 2007

Basin-Scale Integrated Water Resources Management in Central Asia, 3rd World Water Forum, Kyoto, Japan, 2003

Multiobjective Optimization Model for Water Allocation in the Aral Sea Basin, American Institute of Hydrology-CIS, 1996

Multiobjective Model for Negotiation in Regional Water Resource Allocation Proc. EWRI World Environmental and Water Resources Conference, American Society of Civil Engineers, 1996

Technical Reports

Case Study Highlighting Impacts from Sustainable Land Management Investments in the Central Asian Republics and with a Particular Focus on Kyrgyzstan (2006) 

Sustainability Analysis for Irrigation Water Management: Concepts, Methodology, and Application to the Aral Sea Region (Discussion Paper No. 86, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, DC, 2001)

EPIC Program Reports Archive (FTP site with the archive of the reports produced for under the USAID Environmental Policies and Institutions for Central Asia --EPIC-- Program during 1998 - 2000)

Optimization of the Use of Water and Energy Resources in the Syrdarya Basin Under Current Conditions (USAID/EPIC Program Modeling Group, Technical Report, June 2000)

Aral Sea Water Rights (CRWR Online Report 98-3: Sandra Akmansoy, and Daene C. McKinney, January 1998)

Options Analysis of the Operation of Toktogul Reservoir (USAID/EPT Project, Issue Paper No. 7, John Keith and Daene McKinney, 1997)

Multiobjective Water Resource Allocation Model for Toktogul Reservoir (USAID/EPT Project, Technical Report, Daene C. McKinney and Ximing Cai, 1997)

Aral Sea Regional Allocation Model for the Amudarya River(USAID/EPT Project, Technical Report, Daene C. McKinney, Akmal Kh. Karimov and Ximing Cai, 1997)

Amu Darya River Water Allocation (USAID/EPT Project, Technical Report, Akmal Kh. Karimov and Daene C. McKinney, 1996)

The Aral - Coming to the Aid of a Dying Sea (newsletter article, 1996)

Sustainable Water Management in the Aral Sea Basin (Water Resources Update, Universities Council on Water Resources, Issue No. 102: Winter, 1996)