Uzbekistan on Friday said it would urge the public to save water, as global warming and creaking infrastructure point to a serious crisis in the landlocked arid country.
Experts have said streamflows at its two main rivers, the Amu Darya and Syr Darya, are set to drop by up to 15 percent by 2050.
Over 90 percent of Uzbekistan's water is used for agriculture, and leaks on its vast, Soviet-era irrigation network mean that over a third of water is lost during transportation.
"The main task should be to instil in the population the idea that water is not free," Uzbek leader Shavkat Mirziyoyev said on a visit to the country's south, which faces regular droughts.
This message will be reinforced "together with neighbourhood activists, intellectuals, and the general public," he was quoted as saying by his spokesman.
Officials have also been instructed to carry out maintenance works on the irrigation system, including $60 million worth of repairs on the Sherobod canal in the south, his spokesman said.
Uzbekistan has few sources of fresh water, and much of if comes from its rivers. .
Mirziyoyev warned in September that serious water shortages plaguing Central Asian countries had become "irreversible" and would only get worse amid increased competition.