Kura River in Azerbaijan so shallow that the bottom is visible. Who’s to blame – farmers or the gov’t?
The Kura River in Azerbaijan, one of the main waterways of the country and a body which plays an important role in the ecosystem of the entire South Caucasus, has become significantly shallow.
Some experts attribute the alarming situation to the careless attitude of local farmers. Others warn of the risks that the Mingachevir reservoir continues to create for the country’s water resources.
Residents of the Neftchala region of Azerbaijan say that there is so little water in the river that you can see the bottom.
They have to buy water for their cattle, gardens and orchards.
There are drinking water problems in the area as well, and local residents say they have it delivered from the neighboring Salyan region.
Farman Huseynov, a resident of the city of Neftchala which is located on the banks of the Kura River, told the BBC that the level of fresh water in the river had decreased so much that the saltwater of the Caspian Sea has begun to flow into the channel, mixing with the river and leading to problems with drinking water:
“Over the past hundred years, it has never happened that salt water has filled the mouth of the river. The authorities should have seen to the problem and made sure in advance to prevent this,” says Farman Huseynov.
One of the main reasons for the shallowing of the river is the careless attitude of farmers
“The Kura has been reduced to such a condition that we can talk about a threat to the entire ecosystem,” said Ramiz Mammadov, director of the Institute of Geography of the National Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan.
Mammadov says one of the main reasons for the issue is the irresponsible approach of local farmers.
“There is rapid growth of farming here, new farms are being created, the volume of water use has increased dramatically. And it is used wastefully,” says Ramiz Mammadov.
In particular, he said, within the 50-60 kilometers that separates the village Banq from the Caspian Sea, water pipelines and pumps have been installed in many places.
“Fisheries and ponds have been created, and a huge amount of water is spent on all this,” says Ramiz Mammadov.
At the same time, he noted, it is necessary to take into account climate changes that affect the ecosystems of the entire planet.
How to solve the problem?
On April 15, 2020, President Ilham Aliyev signed a decree on measures for the rational use of water resources. A special commission has also been created to study the problem and propose a program to restore the water levels in the Kura.
However, experts have doubts that the commission will be able to come to a decision in the foreseeable future.
Environmentalist Telman Zeynalov considers the arguments about global climate change and reduced rainfall unsound.
“Perhaps the shallowing of the Kura is due to the fault of the Mingachevir reservoir, which draws too much water from the river,” says Zeynalov.
If the commission created by the president really wants to understand the situation, they should come to the place and study what is happening there, the ecologist believes.
“They say that some officials built objects where the waters of the Kura and Araks merge. And for these objects too much water is taken from the river. The Commission should ask about this issue.”