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Environment and health
Water losses in the irrigation distribution systems, estimated at 50 percent, cause waterlogging and salinization. Moreover, only 600 000 ha of irrigated land, the most naturally saline areas, have 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).
The rapid development of all spheres of economics and human activity has had an increasingly negative impact on the environment, partly due to the inefficient use of natural resources. Like many other countries, Azerbaijan is interested in finding solutions to the problems of environmental protection and rational utilization of natural resources. In support of the country’s environmental protection goals, a number of important laws, legal documents and state programmes, all conforming to European law requirements, have been approved.
Almost 30 percent of the Caspian Sea coastal area is exposed to contamination. More than half of the rivers more than 100 km long are considered to be contaminated. All the lakes of the low-lying parts of the country are exposed to the changes in the thermal, biological and chemical regimes. The lakes of the Apsheron Peninsula and the Kura Araks Lowland, covering a total area of more than 200 km2, 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 obsoleteness 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.