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Government strategy in the field of water supply is being successfully carried out in Azerbaijan

Interview with  Chairman of Azersu Open Joint Stock Company Gorkhmaz Huseynov

Q: Mr. Huseynov, as we know improvement of water supply system in the country is one of the key priorities for President Ilham Aliyev. What did 2014 mark from this point of view?

A: First of all I would like to emphasize that the year 2014 marked rapid development and improvement of the population`s social welfare in our country. Despite the implications of the global financial and economic crisis, Azerbaijan is moving forward on the path of reaching its goals.

President Ilham Aliyev`s successful policy has positively impacted on the water industry too. Much attention has been paid to improving water supply and sewage system as part of the execution of state programs.

A look at the statistical figures of the last year reveals a clear picture of the achievements and the scale of the work done. In 2014, Azersu supplied a total of 258 million cubic metres of drinking water to consumers. The sewage system handled a total of 184 million cubic metres of waste water. The revenues of the company made 150 million manats.

With the aim of improving water supply and sewage services, a total of 1185km long drinking water and 325km long sewage system pipes were laid out last year. Some 39 water reservoirs were built, 10 artesian and sub-artesian wells were drilled, and 146,000 metres, of them 142,000 smart-type metres, were installed.

As a result of these events a total of 357,000 people saw the quality of water supply improve, while 259,000 people received round-the-clock water supply. The number of consumers increased 113,000 to reach 1,322,000 people last year.

Q: Important projects related to water industry were implemented under the “State Program on socio-economic development of districts of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2014-2018”. We would like you to highlight the work carried out in the districts…

A: In his speech at the conference on the results of the first year of implementation of the “State Program on socio-economic development of districts of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2014-2018”, President Ilham Aliyev said drinking water projects are a priority for us. “In recent years this area has been given a lot of attention. All our cities will be provided with drinking water conforming to World Health Organization standards on a round-the-clock basis. In some cities these projects have already been completed. I personally attend ceremonies marking completion of each project, and the information from the field makes me very delighted. This is also a historic event, because domestic sources of water in Azerbaijan are limited. Our main sources are rivers that originate abroad. Therefore, there was a process of rational use of waters from these rivers, the construction of sewage treatment plants and identification of domestic sources,” he said. The government has invested hundreds of millions and even billions in the water sector. Currently, water supply in Baku is 78 per cent, while in 2004 the figure was 29 per cent. I am talking about round-the-clock water supply of the city. Across the country this figure exceeds 60 per cent, but 11 years ago it was probably at 10-15 per cent.
In a short period of time, in just eight months, a 62km long water pipe was built to connect Kur water purification facilities with Sabirabad and Saatli cities. Last year a ceremony to launch water supply to Sabirabad was held. The President attended the ceremony. The city of Saatli is also receiving water from this source. In total, the main pipeline supplies drinking water to 100,000 people in 28 cities and regions in Sabirabad, 47,000 people in 12 cities and villages in Saatli, and 10,000 people in 4 villages in Hajigabul region.

The construction of a water purification facility, with the capacity of 30,000 cubic metres of water, on the shore of Khanbulanchay water reservoir, which is considered one of the main water sources, is nearing completion. The facility will supply drinking water to the cities of Lankaran and Astara, and 39 villages.

In 2014, Azersu signed “National Water Supply and Sanitation Project in 6 Regions of the Republic of Azerbaijan” with the Islamic Development Bank, which saw the start of reconstruction of water supply and sanitation system in the cities of Gadabay and Astara.

Q: Could you please brief us on what was done in 2014 to improve the quality of services provided by your organization to consumers?

A: Last year saw the execution of considerable work aimed at improving the quality of services provided by Azersu to consumers. Reforms carried out and improvements made to the legislation contributed to improving the quality of our services and increasing transparency,

We approved the rules of use of water and technical terms of consumers` joining water supply and the use of waste water. In addition, supplements and amendments were made to the Criminal Code and Administrative Code, which provides for more severe punishment for those who illegally use water supply and waste water use system.

In 2014, we also started providing some of our services to consumers through Asan Xidmet. More than 10,000 people applied for Azersu services to Asan Xidmet offices in Baku, Sumgayit and Sabirabad.

Q: What about foreign relations of Azersu. What companies did you sign agreements with in 2014?

A: In 2014, Azersu continued its policy of improving water supply and sanitation systems to world standards, studying best international practices and expanding international cooperation with the aim of applying innovative technologies.

Azersu signed an agreement with French-based utility company Suez Environment under a project on water supply in the Azerbaijani capital Baku. It was inked as part of French President Francois Hollande`s visit to Azerbaijan in May. The agreement was signed within the "Support of the master plan and operational assessment of water supply in Baku" project.

The agreement envisions drafting a plan to study the water supply system of Baku and determine its weak points, and ensuring uninterrupted water supply.

Under the contract, SUEZ will provide training and knowledge transfer on the full range of water-cycle business lines to 4500 employees working for Azersu.

The contract is structured around two key areas: training in the water business lines will be given in Azerbaijan and France for high-potential executives, while operation training will also be arranged for the teams in their workplaces.

It marks the start of a partnership which could be further extended to other priority areas, such as soil remediation, particularly in areas contaminated by hydrocarbons.

Azersu signed a loan agreement with the Saudi Development Fund.

The total cost of “Reconstruction and expansion of water supply and sewerage services of Khiradaln City" project is $75 million, $35 million of which will be given on favorable terms by the Saudi Development Fund and the remaining sum will be provided at the expense of state finances. The project is designed with the prospect of development until 2035 for sustainable water supply of more than 190,000 people.

Azersu also signed a loan agreement with the Asian Development Bank for the funding of Water Supply and Sanitation Investment Program - Project 3.

Q: What is Azersu doing in terms of protection of environment?

A: Azersu attaches particular importance to environment-related projects and programs.

One of the remarkable events of the last year was international accreditation of the Central Laboratory. Experts of the Latvian State Academy inspected the activity of the laboratory and highly appreciated its work. This laboratory is equipped with ultra-modern equipment that can be used to determine the physical, chemical and bacteriological parameters of drinking and waste water. In the design of the laboratory the need to conduct analyses in any territory in the regions of the country and under all conditions was taken into account. To this end, special purpose vehicles, which function as a mobile laboratory, and four vehicles for the transportation of water samples were procured.

In total, the laboratory examined 11,400 samples of drinking and waste water last year.

President of the Republic of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev has attended the opening of Yasamal park in the territory of “+82 Qərb” water reservoir of Azersu.