Kazakhstan's largest reservoir, 100 km from Ust-Kamenogorsk regional center, was formed in the 1960s as a result of construction of Bukhtarma hydroelectric power station by the side of the Irtysh River. Right now it does not only regulate water flow and establishes conditions for navigation on the Irtysh River, but today the Bukhtarma Reservoir is also a major tourist site of the Eastern Kazakhstan.
The Reservoir area is nearly 5.5 thousand sq. km with an average depth of more than 9.5 m. It is conventionally divided into two sections: the river section (the Black Irtysh River and its tributaries - the Bukhtarma and Narym River valleys, and Monchekursk Depression) and the Zaisan Lake (huge river reach in place of the lake due to accumulation of water). The Reservoir is surrounded by picturesque Altai Mountains, the slopes of which are covered with birch, fir-trees and cedars.
There is a lot of fish found in the Irtysh River and its tributaries that is of great interest for fishermen – peled, European cisco, pike, bream, perch, grayling, nerfling, wild carp, trout, freshwater cod, common carp, pike perch and other. Over 20 comfortable recreation camps were built on the banks of the Reservoir, ready to take in not only local tourists but also visitors to the region. One of the most popular holiday destinations is the New Bukhtarma village on the right bank of the Reservoir.
Over 40% of all water resources of the country are concentrated in the East Kazakhstan Region (EKR). It was estimated that the region has 900 rivers longer than 10 km, and about 1000 lakes larger than 1 hectare.