Washington, World Bank, March 08, 2019
Aim Texas Trading, LLC participated in a tender to offer consulting services in collaboration with HPC AG (Germany) and PASECO (Greece) as a Joint Venture. The purpose of the tender was to prepare a Feasibility Study for the Clean Up and Rehabilitation of Absheron Lakes and Lake Khojasan Sustainable Cleanup and Area Rehabilitation in Azerbaijan under the project titled “WB-SELECTION # 1261392.” In this Joint Venture, PASECO took on the role of Lead Consultant.
The Greater Baku Regional Development Plan (GBRDP) of 2015 envisions expansion of urban development west and east of Baku, and in the locations of old oil fields and areas around the lakes. The GBRDP recommends policy measures to restrict development on contaminated lands until they are properly cleaned.
The Government of Azerbaijan (GoA) has assigned high priority on cleaning of industrially polluted land and lakes in the Greater Baku Area, acknowledging the expected economic benefits and positive impacts on environmental health as a “public good”. The removal of contaminants and the regeneration of these brownfields will help mitigate the risk and potential negative impacts on public health, water, groundwater and soils of adjacent neighborhoods; will create jobs and new business opportunities for local entrepreneurs, and consequently increase the area’s development potential and property values.
Restoring the Absheron lakes would have a considerable impact on the quality of life in Greater Baku. By enhancing their cleanliness, these lakes could substantially add to the landscape’s aesthetic value, offer recreational opportunities, and create more land available for housing and economic purposes. Additionally, their transformation into more natural systems could even play a role in mitigating urban climate extremes.
Situated on the west side of the city in the Binagadi district, Khojasan Lake boasts a relatively shallow nature, with an average depth of 4 meters. Covering a surface area of 1.82 square kilometers, it stretches with a maximum length of 3.82 kilometers and a width of 662 meters. The lake’s outlet directs the water flow to the south, while the northeast side features a marshy region, and in the northwest, there is a water inlet. Historically, the lake received its water supply from rainwater and the groundwater of upstream areas.
The delineable watershed of Khodjsan Lake covers an area of approximately 16.9 square kilometers. The watershed has a sloping terrain from the north to the south, with the lowest point located in the southern part. The lake and its surrounding watershed are situated within a syncline and are enclosed by two ridges on the east and west sides. The left ridge is known as Shubani mountains, significantly higher than the right ridge. The highest point of the watershed is found in the Shubani ridge, reaching an elevation of 344 meters. On the other hand, the lowest point is at the starting point of the primary outflow, at an elevation of 13 meters. The right ridge is referred to as Yasamal uplands, and its highest point stands at 118 meters.
Lake Khojasan is one of the lakes on the list of polluted areas in the Absheron Peninsula, including with oil compounds such as VOCs, PAHs, and heavy metals. A study commissioned by the Ministry of Economic Development in 2014 points that soil around the lake are polluted with Total Petroleum Hydrocarbons, cadmium, mercury and arsenic slightly above the national soil quality standard, and lake sediments were moderately polluted with oil products. It is assumed that the source of pollution with oil products are (former) oil extraction activities in the vicinity of Khojasan.
Khojasan Lake area faces significant pollution, primarily arising from untreated municipal sewage and industrial wastewaters discharged directly into the lake. The northern part of the lake is severely affected by extensive industrial sites that release chemical and biological pollutants without proper regulation. Moreover, shanty areas and various small and medium-sized industrial developments lacking planned sewage systems also utilize the lake as a dumping ground for their wastewaters. Additionally, small oil extraction wells in the vicinity discharge effluents directly into the lake, exacerbating the contamination.
One of the consequences of this pollution is the presence of high concentrations of nutrients in the lake water, largely stemming from the substantial influx of wastewater with elevated nutrient levels. Consequently, the lake experiences an abundance of algae and a consistent production of cyanobacteria. Furthermore, run-offs from unauthorized solid waste dumpsites on the west side of City Bypass Road in Binagadi pose a significant risk to the lake’s water quality. These dumpsites are estimated to contain approximately 30% construction waste and tailings, 60% domestic waste, 6% oil residues, and 4% old tires, with some locations also containing livestock waste.
Approximately 75% of the total water input in the lake is comprised of wastewater. The remaining input is believed to be distributed among seepage, surface runoff, and precipitation. Precipitation plays the most significant role during the winter months. On an annual basis, seepage, surface runoff, and precipitation are expected to be evenly distributed.