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Water resources

It is estimated that internal renewable water resources amount to about 8.12 km3/year (Table 2). Annual surface runoff is estimated at 5.96 km3 and groundwater recharge at 6.51 km3, of which 4.35 km3 constitutes the base flow of the rivers. The estimated incoming surface flow is 25.38 km3/year, of which 11.91 km3 from Georgia, 7.50 km3 from the Islamic Republic of Iran and 5.97 km3 from Armenia. The Sumar River, with a total flow of 2.36 km3/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 32.52 km3/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 under way on a water sharing agreement.

The groundwater resources are famous for their quality as mineral drinking water and are also used for medical purposes. The Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic is especially rich in mineral groundwater.

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 River 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 1 515 km, of which 900 km is located within Azerbaijan. The total annual inflow from Georgia is estimated at 11.91 km3. 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 100 km 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 River and its tributaries from Armenia and Iran is estimated at 13.47 km3/year, bringing the total inflow into Azerbaijan to an estimated 25.38 km3/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 2.36 km3, 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 21.54 km3. Most of this capacity, 21.04 km3, comes from large dams, of more than 100 million m3 each. 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 (Table 2). Although wastewater treatment plants exist in 16 towns and cities, the majority are partly or completely out of operation.


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