Overcoming water challenges in Azerbaijan

Feb. 21, 2018
Azersu OJSC provides insight into some of the challenges and developments of the Republic of Azerbaijan's water sector...

BAKU, Azerbaijan - The Azersu Open Joint Stock Company (OJSC) provides water supply and sanitation services in the Republic of Azerbaijan. Here Dr Farda Imanov, director of scientific research provides some insight into current developments within the company.

How do you view the energy-water nexus with regards to running a water company?

At present, Azersu OJSC implements wide-scale projects on the reconstruction of existing plants and establishes infarstructure project systems for ensuring water supply and sanitation services quality and security in several big and small towns and villages of Azerbaijan Republic. Within the framework of these projects, energy-water nexus application opportunities are being investigated by Azersu OJSC. Being the member of the World Water Council (WWC) from 2013, Azersu OJSC was elected as a member of WWC Board of Governors (BoG). In this regard, more favorable conditions have been created for investigating water sector problems and finding solutions, taking advantage of different countries' experience and at the same time, passing this experience across society.

What have been the latest developments on energy generation across Azersu JSC company infrastructure?

The climate of Azerbaijan Republic territory enables the use of solar and wind energy, which have been taken into consideration in Azersu OJSC’s future projects. For example, over 250 solar panels were used for electricity supply of the intraurban water reservoir square, providing electrical power devices with alternative energy. Furthermore, solar panels were used for external lighting of the Kur water treatment plants.

What are the latest challenges facing the Azersu OJSC company and other utilities across the region at the moment?

The geographical location of Azerbaijan is very sensitive to the impact of climate change. The US Central Intelligence Agency’s report on climate change highlighted Azerbaijan among 39 countries that are most affected by climate change. Comparison of perennial quantities of annual average water consumption for the period between 1972 to 2010 has shown that, as a result of global warming and anthropogenic influences, the annual flow of Azerbaijani rivers has dropped by 15.9 percent 1,642 km3.

Furthemore, the occupation of the Nagorno-Karabakh region of Azerbaijan by Armenia has caused serious problems in the water supply of the surrounding areas. Thus, the Sarsang water reservoir, built in the Nagorno-Karabakh on the Tartar River in the Soviet era, remains in the occupied territory. The reservoir water can’t be used in Azerbaijan and this has created a big problem in the water supply for the people living in the surrounding area. This problem is being solved by using underground water from a total of 586 new sub-artesian wells, drilled in the territory of the Sarsang reservoir. However, the capacity of these wells has decreased considerably over the past 20-25 years. Previously the capacity of wells was 20-30 liters per second but now this figure is down to 6-8 liters.

This year has been labelled the year of “smart wastewater management”, with more data, internet of things (IoT) technology and software solutions available to help monitor wastewater networks. How is your utility adopting such technologies?

Supervisory control and data acquisition (SCADA) systems have been applied by Azersu OJSC to pump station automation, wastewater treatment automation, water treatment plants automation and urban networks and waterway management. Heat, conductivity, colour measurement, nitrate, phosphate and ammonium nitrogen among many other chemical parameters are registered by the SCADA Center and are continuously monitored. Input and output water consumption are also measured in treatment plant. Samples are taken and laboratory results are the automatically monitored. GPRS modems are used to connect stormwater collector lines and industrial facilities to the SCADA Center with other main collector lines.

Can you tell me about current international collaboration efforts underway in the Republic of Azerbaijan?

Projects are being implemented for the reconstruction of water supply and sewerage systems in urban and rural areas of the Republic of Azerbaijan. Such projects are financed using state funds and loans allocated by international financing institutions. Water and wastewater projects are being implemented in the framework of close cooperation with World Bank, Asian Development Bank, German KfW Bank, Japan International Cooperation Agency, Saudi Fund for Development, Islamic Development Bank.

At the same time, bilateral relations between SUEZ, Halla Korea, Budapest Water Works, Vag Germany, TEC Japan, DOV Group USA, SUEZ, ISKI, IBB of Switzerland and many other companies are successfully helping to implemetn innovative technologies and modern facilities. We hope that our cooperation with different foreign countries will be developed and strengthened in the future.

You are also working with the Budapest Waterworks?

Works have been completed and the final presentation was held between Azersus OJSC and Hungarian Water Group in order to assess the current situation, including the internal and external environment of the society, to develop an information and communication technology strategy. A contract was signed between Azersu OJSC and Budapest Water Works back in November 2014 for the technical design, construction and supervision of two 10,000 cubic metre water reservoirs.

- Azersu OJSC will be one of the utilties speaking at the Water and Energy Exchange (WEX) in Lısbon, Portugal, March 13-14.

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