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Area: 5888268 km2
Brazil; Peru; Suriname; France; Colombia; Guyana; Bolivia; Venezuela; Ecuador
Santa Cruz; Manaus; La Paz
HydroBasin Level:
Baseline Water Stress:
Water Quality Stress:
Sanitation Access Stress:
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3.26 out of 5
WWF Country Risk Score
21 out of 248 Countries
WWF Country Rank
Total Organizations: 1
Total Projects: 0
Priority SDGs: Sustainable Agriculture (SDG 2.4)
Increase Access to Water, Sanitation, Hygiene (SDG 6.1 & 6.2)
Water Quality (SDG 6.3)
Water Use Efficiency (SDG 6.4)
Integrated Water Resource Management (SDG 6.5)
Protect and Restore Ecosystems (SDG 6.6)
International Cooperation and Capacity Building (SDG 6.a)
Stakeholder Participation (SDG 6.b)
Climate Resilience and Adaptation (SDG 13.1)
Priority Regions: --
Priority Industries: --
Organization Types:
International Organization
Profile Completion: 82%

Water-Related Challenge Costs

Total annual estimated cost to address all water-related challenges: $2,567,591,345.00

Share of total annual estimated cost to address each individual challenge (2015 $USD):

  • Access to Drinking Water: $131,698,354.00 - [5%]
  • Access to Sanitation: $183,577,806.00 - [7%]
  • Industrial Pollution: $449,109,396.00 - [17%]
  • Agricultural Pollution: $7,209,228.00 - [0%]
  • Water Scarcity: $1,368,064,670.00 - [53%]
  • Water Management: $427,931,891.00 - [17%]

For more about this data, see information on WRI’s Achieving Abundance dataset here.

Water Challenges

As reported by organizations on the Hub.

Upstream Water Issues

Country Overview

1.1.WATER RESOURCES 1.1.1.WATER RESOURCES It is estimated that internal renewable water resources amount to about 8.12km3/year. Annual surface runoff is estimated at 5.96km3 and groundwater recharge at 6.51km3, of which 4.35km3 constitutes the base flow of the rivers. The estimated incoming surface flow is 25.38km3/year, of which 11.91km3 is from Georgia, 7.5km3 from the Islamic Republic of Iran and 5.97km3 from Armenia. The Sumar river, with a total flow of 2.36km3/year, forms the border between Azerbaijan and the Russian Federation. The total renewable surface water resources (RSWR), including incoming and bordering flows, are therefore estimated at 32.52km3/year. In the case of the Kura and Araks rivers, which flow through Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Azerbaijan, discussions are underway on a water-sharing agreement. Azerbaijan has four major river basins, two of which are international: •the basin of the Kura and Araks rivers. This is by far the largest basin in the country (excluding the occupied zone and the zone declared neutral in May 1994). The Kura rises in the Kars upland in northeast Turkey. It then flows into Georgia and crosses the border to Azerbaijan in the northwest. The total length of the Kura River system is 1,515km, of which 900km is located within Azerbaijan. The total annual inflow from Georgia is estimated at 11.91km3. The Araks river also rises in the northeast of Turkey. It forms the border between Turkey and Armenia, Turkey and Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Azerbaijan, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Armenia, and the Islamic Republic of Iran and Azerbaijan again, before flowing into the eastern part of Azerbaijan. About 100km downstream of the border it joins the Kura river, which continues to flow southeast towards the Caspian Sea. The total inflow of the main branch of the Araks and its tributaries from Armenia and Iran is estimated at 13.47km3/year, bringing the total inflow into Azerbaijan to an estimated 25.38km3/year; •the Samur river basin, located in the northeast of the country. The Samur river rises in the Russian Federation and then forms its border with Azerbaijan. Its estimated annual discharge is 2.36km3, half of which is considered to be available for Azerbaijan. The river divides into several branches before flowing into the Caspian Sea; •the Caspian Sea coastal river basins in the northeast, between the Samur and Kura River Basins; •the Caspian Sea coastal river basins in the Lankaran region in the southeast, south of the Kura river basin. The total reservoir capacity of Azerbaijan’s dams is around 21.54km3. Most (21.04km3) of this capacity comes from large dams, each of more than 100 million m3 in capacity. The four largest reservoirs are the Mingacevir and Shamkir on the Kura river, the Araks dam on the Araks river, and the Sarsang on the Terter river, in Armenia. In 2005, wastewater production totalled some 659 million m3. Most wastewater is produced by the cotton cleaning, cotton oil production, fish curing and grape processing industries. In 2005, 161 million m3 of wastewater was treated for reuse. Although wastewater treatment plants exist in 16 towns and cities, the majority are partly or completely out of operation. Historical hydrologic data are incomplete, at least for the Kura-Aras. Hydrological data were recorded during Soviet times, but many of these records were no longer kept after 1990. Even the existing data are difficult to access and their quality is partly doubtful. According to available data, in Salyan, about 100km from the outlet of the Kura into the Caspian Sea, the average discharge declined by about 15 per cent between the 1930s and the early 1980s. However, the interannual variations are strong. Rising temperatures and consequent snow and ice melting are obvious, since rivers fed by snow show an increasing discharge. Other rivers show a strong reduction in discharge, which might be caused by increasing water withdrawal. The Caspian Sea level increased by about 2.5m since the 1970s, following a reduction of 3m since the 1920s (Kerres, 2010).

1.1.2.WATER USE In 2005 water withdrawal was estimated at 12.21km3, of which 76.4 per cent was for agricultural purposes, 4.2 per cent for municipal uses and 19.3 per cent for industrial processes. Agriculture uses about two thirds of the water in the Kura Aras. Both rivers have been regulated by dams. The largest has been built at Mingechevir, where the reservoir has a storage capacity of 15.7km³, almost the yearly flow of the Kura after the confluence with the Aras. The dams are used for hydropower and irrigation and contribute to regulate the river flow. In all three South Caucasus states, 60-70 per cent of the water is used for agricultural purposes, even though the contribution of the sector to the GDP (including rainfed agriculture) ranges from only 6 per cent in Azerbaijan to 19 per cent in Georgia. In 2005, freshwater withdrawal totalled 12.21km3. It was estimated that primary surface water accounted for 92.6 per cent, primary groundwater for 6.1 per cent and reused treated wastewater for 1.3 per cent

1.2.WATER QUALITY, ECOSYSTEMS AND HUMAN HEALTH Water quality in Kura-Aras is threatened by various sources. Even though there is a lack of wellfounded data on surface and, in particular, ground water, water quality is an important challenge. Since Soviet times, water has been polluted through agricultural activities and chemical industry. Moreover, mining activities led to heavy metal contamination and untreated domestic wastewater adds organic pollution. There is a lack of wastewater treatment plants, and those that exist often do not work properly. Climate change has the potential to further threaten water quality in both Country Overview - Azerbaijan rivers (Kerres, 2010). The groundwater resources are famous for their quality as mineral drinking water and are used for medical purposes. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is especially rich in mineral groundwater. Water losses in the irrigation distribution systems, estimated at 50 per cent, cause waterlogging and salinization. Moreover, only 6,000km2 of irrigated land, the most naturally saline areas, has drainage. The increased water level of the Caspian Sea has also made land on the coast more saline. Salinization is particularly widespread on the Kura-Araks lowland (UNECE, 2004). Almost 30 per cent of the Caspian Sea coastal area is exposed to contamination. More than half of the rivers more than 100km long are considered to be contaminated. All the lakes of the low-lying parts of the country are exposed to changes in the thermal, biological and chemical regimes. The lakes of the Apsheron Peninsula and the Kura Aras Lowland, covering a total area of more than 200km2, are in a critical state. The main sources of contamination of water resources are industry, agriculture, the municipal sector, energy, heating and recreation (UNEP/GRID-Arendal, 2005). Irrational use of water resources and pollution of water bodies can be put down to the fact that cities, regional centres and other human settlements are poorly equipped with sewerage systems and wastewater treatment facilities, as well as to the obsolescence of the existing technical facilities. Untreated wastewater released from Baku, Ganja, Sumgayit, Mingacevir, Ali-Bayramli, Nakhchivan and other urban centres significantly contributes to the pollution of the water bodies.

(Water Risk Filter) 

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Country Water Profile

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Organizations in Azerbaijan

HYDROC is an association of independent consultants, -scientists and -engineers, providing water-related services through a network of national and international experts. Our concept uses the synergies of our combined expertise for the successful implementation of a variety of projects. Our … Learn More

Projects in Azerbaijan

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Leonardo Rodriguez
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