The Aral Sea area, located on the border between Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, was once the fourth largest inland sea in the world. Since the 1960s, water volume has been reduced by a factor of fourteen. Tributary water to the Aral Sea derives from the rivers Amu Darya originating in Tajikistan, and Syr Darya originating in Kyrgyzstan. Early in the 20th century demand for river water to supply local agriculture, primarily the cotton industry, led to construction of irrigation systems . A highly inefficient system for water allocation combined with excessive resource exploration was the result. Subsequent failure to maintain infrastructure, in tandem with large emissions of pollutants have had serious consequences for people inhabiting the areas around the Aral Sea.

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