With Better Water Infrastructure, Afghanistan Can Develop $1 Trillion USD of Natural Resources

united states, FL, TAMPA

Afghanistan has over $1 trillion USD worth of gold, copper, rare earth metals, petroleum and natural gas, but factors like lack of water needed for mining operations will make it difficult for th country to access these resources, according to U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Afghanistan Project Lead Jack Medlin.

Medline told a panel discussion at a recent University of South Florida conference that the USGS, using state-of-the-art imaging systems, had found 24 mineral-rich sections in the country, which could provide enough energy sources for all of Afghanistan’s needs.

"It's not a Saudi Arabia or Kuwait. But there is enough to meet demands," the Tampa Tribune quoted Medlin as saying.

The conference, "Water: The Key to Regional Stability Thru Sustainable Partnerships," looked at how water in Afghanistan is used for agriculture, energy and mining.

USGS released a report in June 2010 about the status of Afghanistan’s water supplies. The study, “Conceptual Model of Water Resources in the Kabul Basin, Afghanistan,” found that at least 60 percent of shallow wells that supply much of the Afghan capital with water could be affected by warming temperatures from climate change.

Water contamination is also a major concern, study author Thomas Mack said. Although there are some water distribution systems in Kabul, “right now there are no water treatment either supply or wastewater [facilities]” in Kabul.

The Kabul River in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.

The report also found that warming air temperatures have led to earlier snowmelt on the mountains in the country. Runoff from this snowmelt feeds the rivers, and earlier snowmelt means less water is available later in the year.

Afghanistan’s Ambassador to the United States Said T. Jawad said at the launch of the report in Washington DC that “water management is crucial for the future of Afghanistan.”

“We think that Afghanistan could be an important source of providing water…in neighboring countries, provided that a better mechanism of managing that water is found,” he added.

Back in 2010, the USGS and the Afghan government said adequate water resources for developing mineral resources, and the effects of mineral development on water quality were areas of concern.

The USGS, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and various Afghan ministries started working on plans to carry out a study of water quantity and quality throughout the country.

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