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EUWI+ water monitoring survey in the Kura river delta in early August 2020 © EUWI+

 

In June 2020, significant intrusion of seawater in the upper parts of the Kura river delta in Azerbaijan was identified by surveys of the National Hydrometeorology Service of Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources. Next monitoring surveys executed until early July indicated some improvement. On request of the Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources in Baku and the European Union Delegation Baku, the European Union Water Initiative Plus (EUWI+) project facilitated the execution of a targeted survey of delta water salinization in early August 2020.


Serious water supply and environmental problems

The very high salinity contents identified in June 2020 in the upper parts of the Kura river delta in Azerbaijan made freshwater supply for some local villages and farm animals temporarily impossible and resulted in a critical situation among riparian water users. Experts agreed to conduct a special monitoring research within the EUWI+ project in early August 2020 to assess the scale of water quality changes and to assess causes and possible solutions.


Reduced water flows contribute to the major intrusion of saltwater


Results from 23 sampling points indicated that the saline water of the Caspian Sea (average value of 16) entered the Kura River for about 66 km distance. There was a homogenous high salinity of 10.6, which presumably has a strong impact also on the river ecosystem.
Causes may be connected with major water abstractions for agriculture upstream at the Kura river which have led to a significant reduction of the downstream river flows and may trigger inland movement of seawater beyond the delta during strong winds and waves . Still, further monitoring and expert discussion is needed in the coming weeks to identify the suitable responses for mitigating these impacts.

 

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EUWI+ water monitoring survey in the Kura river delta in early August 2020 © EUWI+