Manych River

Manych River

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Manych is a river
A river is a natural watercourse, usually freshwater, flowing towards an ocean, a lake, a sea, or another river. In a few cases, a river simply flows into the ground or dries up completely before reaching another body of water. Small rivers may also be called by several other names, including...

 in the western and central part of the Kuma-Manych Depression
Kuma-Manych Depression
The Kuma–Manych Depression , is a geological depression in southwestern Russia that separates the Russian Plain from the Fore-Caucasus...

 in southern Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...


Tributary to the river Don. The river is 219 km long; its source is Lake Manych-Gudilo in the south-westerm part of the Russian republic of Kalmykia
The Republic of Kalmykia is a federal subject of Russia . Population: It is the only Buddhist region in Europe. It has also become well-known as an international chess mecca because its former President, Kirsan Ilyumzhinov, is the head of the International Chess Federation .-Geography:*Area:...

. It flows through the city of Proletarsk
Proletarsk is a town and the administrative center of Proletarsky District of Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the Rostov-Baku Line. The Manych River flows through the city. Population:...

 and joins the River Don in Manychskaya, east of the city of Rostov-on-Don
-History:The mouth of the Don River has been of great commercial and cultural importance since the ancient times. It was the site of the Greek colony Tanais, of the Genoese fort Tana, and of the Turkish fortress Azak...


There are three reservoirs on the West Manych, listed from upstream to downstream:
  • Proletarsk (Proletarskoye) Reservoir (Пролетарское водохранилище) (Dam at 46°37′53"N 41°39′36"E, near the town of Proletarsk
    Proletarsk is a town and the administrative center of Proletarsky District of Rostov Oblast, Russia, located on the Rostov-Baku Line. The Manych River flows through the city. Population:...

  • Vesyolovskoye Reservoir (Весёловское водохранилище) (Dam at 47°06′36"N 40°46′37"E, near the township Vesyoly).
  • Ust'-Manych (Ust'-Manychskoye) Reservoir (Усть-Манычское водохранилище) (Dam at 47°14′20"N 40°15′53"E)

The Proletarsk Dam is sufficiently high to raise the water level in Lake Manych-Gudilo
Lake Manych-Gudilo
Lake Manych-Gudilo is a large saltwater reservoir lake in Kalmykia, Russia. Part of the lake lies also in Rostov Oblast and Stavropol Krai. It has an area of about 344 km² and average depth of only about 0.6 m....

 upstream from it, so in fact the lake has become part of the Proletarsk Reservoir. The three reservoirs (and Lake Manych-Gudilo) form an almost continuous chain, the original course of the river being almost entirely flooded by them. According to the calculations of the Russian geographer Alexander Bazelyuk, merely 9.1 km of the length of the West Manych river remains in its original "river" (rather than reservoir form): 8.2 km from the Vesyolovsk Dam to the upper reaches of the Ust-Manych Reservoir, and 0.9 km from the Ust-Manych Dam to the river's fall into the Don.

The common source

Formerly, the upper reaches of the West and East Manych
East Manych
East Manych is a river in the eastern and central part of the Kuma-Manych Depression in southern Russia.East Manych flows east through Kalmykia and along its border with the Stavropol Krai, and ends in the Sostino Lakes...

 were connected, at least in wet years or seasons. The Kalaus River, when reaching the thalweg
Thalweg in geography and fluvial geomorphology signifies the deepest continuous inline within a valley or watercourse system.-Hydrology:In hydrological and fluvial landforms, the thalweg is a line drawn to join the lowest points along the entire length of a stream bed or valley in its downward...

 of the Kuma-Manych Depression at 45°43′N 44°06′E, would split
River bifurcation
River bifurcation occurs when a river flowing in a single stream separates into two or more separate streams which continue downstream. Some rivers form complex networks of distributaries, especially in their deltas...

: the left distributary
A distributary, or a distributary channel, is a stream that branches off and flows away from a main stream channel. They are a common feature of river deltas. The phenomenon is known as river bifurcation. The opposite of a distributary is a tributary...

, flowing north and then west, toward Lake Manych-Gudilo, would become the source of the West Manych, while the right distributary, flowing south and then east, would become the headwaters of the East Manych. During the 20th century, most of the water went into the eastern distributary, until it was dammed. Later, a solid dam was built at this point, preventing any water from flowing from the Kalaus into the East Manych, thus making the Kalaus the source of only the West Manych.


Historically (prior to the construction of the dams and irrigation channels, i.e. until 1932-1940 for the West Manych, and until 1969 for the East Manych), both rivers were intermittent. During dry years, and even during the drier parts of normal rivers, both Manych Rivers would consist merely of a chain of small lakes or ponds with brackish or salty water. The system usually would be fully filled with fresh water only during the spring high water season.

Since the mid-20th century both Manych Rivers are receive significant amount of fresh water via a network of irrigation canals. Since 1948-53,
the West Manych has been receiving water from the Kuban River
Kuban River
The Kuban River is a river in Russia, in the North Caucasus region. It flows mostly through Krasnodar Krai but also in the Karachay-Cherkess Republic, Stavropol Krai and the Republic of Adygea....

 (via the Nevinnomyssk Canal
Nevinnomyssk Canal
The Nevinnomyssk Canal is an irrigation canal in Stavropol Krai in Russia. It leads water from the Kuban River to the Yegorlyk River, which in turn drains towards the Manych River. Construction work on the canal started in 1936, but was interrupted by World War II. Work resumed in 1944, and in...

 and the Yegorlyk River, a left tributary of the West Manych) and from the Tsimlyanskoye Reservoir on the Don River
Don River (Russia)
The Don River is one of the major rivers of Russia. It rises in the town of Novomoskovsk 60 kilometres southeast from Tula, southeast of Moscow, and flows for a distance of about 1,950 kilometres to the Sea of Azov....

 (via the Don Canal). Since the late 1960s, the East Manych has been receiving water from the Terek River and the Kuma River
Kuma River (Russia)
The Kuma is an long river in southern Russia. Its drainage basin is 33 500 square km. Its source is in the Greater Caucasus, in the republic Karachay-Cherkessia, west of Kislovodsk...

 via the Kuma-Manych Canal
Kuma-Manych Canal
The Kuma–Manych Canal is an irrigation canal in Russia's Stavropol Krai. The canal, completed in 1965, runs across the Kuma–Manych Depression, connecting the Kuma River, which flows into the Caspian Sea, with the East Manych River, which also flows toward the Caspian, but dries out long before...

. According to A. Bazelyuk's calculations, the annual water flow in the West Manych (measured at the Vesyoly township) is 8.3 times as high as it was previous to the canal and dam constructions, while that in the East Manych (measured at the Chogray Dam
Chogray Reservoir
Chogray Reservoir is an artificial reservoir on the East Manych River on the border of Stavropol Krai and Kalmykia in southern Russia.The reservoir, 49 km long, was constructed in 1969-1973, primarily to satisfy the demands of local irrigated farming....

) is 4.3 times as high as before.

If the plans for the proposed Eurasia Canal
Eurasia Canal
The Eurasia Canal is a proposed 700-kilometre long canal connecting the Caspian Sea to the lower Black Sea along the Kuma-Manych Depression, which is often considered the border between Europe and Asia...

, linking the Caspian Sea with the Black Sea, are ever implemented, it will likely follow the Manych valley in its central and western section.