3rd Pilot Project Concept – Zayamchay

The priority areas for cooperation between Azerbaijan and the European Union have been agreed by the Government of Azerbaijan and the European Commission in the Country Strategy Document for 2007-2013 in accordance with the European Neighborhood and Partnership Instrument. The mutually agreed EU/Azerbaijan Action Plan shows Azerbaijan’s commitment to implement jointly defined priorities in accordance with international and European norms and principles. The plan identified priority actions for key environmental sectors, including water management. One of the most important areas of environmental legislation in the European Union is the new Floods Directive. This document defines the basic principles of water resources management in the European Union, as well as the main objectives and implementation plan.

As a first step in the implementation of a project at the level of a large catchment area, according to Article 4, a preliminary flood risk assessment (FRRA) and is the identification of areas with serious potential flood risks, or where they are likely to occur (areas of potentially significant flood risk, according to Article 5 of the Directive).

“Concept of the 3rd pilot project – Implementation of the EU Flood Directive on the Zayamchay Basin (Central Kura Basin area, Azerbaijan)” project is the first work of the Floods Directive in Azerbaijan and was implemented together with the development of the River Basin Management Plan for the pilot project.

“Concept of the 3rd pilot project – Implementation of the EU Flood Directive on the Zayamchay Basin (Central Kura Basin area, Azerbaijan)” project was carried out by Iqlim Ltd Research and Consulting Company on the order of Hyman Dynamics Consulting Company.

Objectives for the project
Preliminary assessment of Flood Hazard; impacts on human health and life, the environment, cultural heritage and economic activity.
Risk assessment: The information obtained in this assessment will be used to identify significant risk areas and then to model flood hazard and risk maps. These maps include detailed information on flood volume, depth and extent for three risk scenarios (high, medium and low probability).
Flood Risk Management Plan: This means identifying the nature and parameters of flood risk for decision makers. Provide management plans for flood protection, implement proposed measures for preparedness. The pilot project is based on the Program of Actions developed within the framework of the initial plan for the management of the Central Kura river basin in the territory of Azerbaijan.
Geographical position of Zayamchay

The Zayamchay basin is located in the west of the Republic of Azerbaijan, on the northeastern slope of the Lesser Caucasus Mountains and in the territory of Gadabey, Tovuz, Shamkir districts (Ganja-Kazakh economic district). Zayamchay belongs to the Kur river basin and is considered its right tributary. The river starts from the Shahdag ridge and flows into the Shamkir reservoir. The area of the catchment basin is 942 km², its length is 90 km. The average annual water consumption of the river is 5.8 m3/s.

The following works have been completed on the project

Existing maps were collected and analyzed – geological, geomorphological, vegetation, forest and soil structure covering the river basin.
Historical and observational data on the hydrological regime of the river were obtained, archival and literature data on the nature of the floods were collected.
Meteorological data for the river basin were collected, the role of climate changes in the river flow was investigated and evaluated.
Information about the location of the population, economic activity, sensitive nature and historical-cultural monuments in the river basin has been collected, so that we can know about floods.

  • in the formation and vice versa, to the assessment of the negative impact of the population and economic activity
    allowed. Flood impact zone maps have been drawn up for the river basin.

    Analysis and calculation of the data collected as a result of the mentioned factors, classification and assessment of extreme flood (natural and anthropogenic) factors, expected dangerous flood probabilities in the future were calculated, danger categories for different scenarios, parameters of flood scenarios for settlements located along the length of the river were determined. River basin flood hazard and risk maps have been compiled for
    A Flood Risk Management Plan was developed in the Zayamchay Basin: Institutional and Organizational Measures; Measures for the creation of Flood Monitoring and Early Warning System; Preventive measures in Zayamchay and its basin to reduce the impact of flood risks

    Meetings with the population in the villages around Zayamchay:

    The research carried out on the project made it possible to obtain the following results:
    According to the water regime, Zayamchay belongs to the group of rivers with spring-summer rush. The main food source of the river is snow water (28%), ground water (43%), as well as spring-summer and autumn rain (29%). River floods occur in spring and summer. During floods, the water level rises to 2.0-2.5 m in the narrowest parts of the river valley. During the flood that occurred in 1963, the water level was 3.5 m in the Aghbaşlar district and was higher than 3-4 m in some parts of the river valley.
    In some wet years, the water level rises to a critical level in the river, and as a result there are flash floods that cause material damage. Destructive floods in Zayamchay due to snowmelt and heavy rain occurred in 1954, 1957, 1959, 1963, 1964, 1968, 1981-1983, 1985, 1997, 2003, 2003-2004 and 2009 and caused considerable damage to the surrounding areas.
    In the area where the main (80%) of the river flow is formed in the catchment basin of Zayamchay, climate changes have occurred for the last 50 years. Warming occurred in the Zayamchay basin in all seasons of the year, maximum warming occurred in summer-autumn (0.8-1.2⁰C), and minimum in winter (0.27⁰C), and an increase in temperature by 0.70C was observed during the year.
    Climatic changes have effects on the flow of Zayamchay, and these effects according to the season are as follows: 1) Despite the decrease of precipitation in the winter season, a 19% increase in river flow was observed. The warm weather of this winter season and the melting of the snow cover have led to an increase in the river flow, respectively. 2) Low rainfall in the spring and summer seasons of the year caused a 7-19% decrease in river flow. 3) In general, as a result of climate changes, the annual flow (water supply) of Zayamchay has decreased by 8%.
    The main parameters of historical floods (water level, depth, water velocity, water consumption) were calculated for residential areas located along the river and its tributaries. Based on the analysis of hydrological and hydrographic data, the main parameters of the maximum flood that occurred in 1963 for settlements and sensitive areas located along the length of Zayamchay were determined by interpolation. The water level along the river rose by 2-4 m during the maximum flood, when the water consumption in the river was 310-380 m3/sec. This is 60 times higher than the average water consumption. Based on the analyzed flood data, a “Flood Impact Zone Map” of the river basin was drawn up in GIS format at a scale of 1:25,000.
    In the Zayamchay Basin, an assessment of the effects of the floods that occurred in the direction of the river’s flow on administrative regions was carried out. The results of the research revealed that 15 villages in Gadabey district, 18 in Tovuz, and 7 in Shamkir are affected by floods. Floods have damaged the population and farms of villages in different years: the households of 315 families in Gadabey district were not affected by floods. In Tovuz region, more than 120 families’ households were affected by floods, 1 person died; In Shamkir region, more than 50 families’ households, roads, bridges, irrigation canals, oil and gas main pipelines were affected by floods.

    • Flood hazard and flood risk assessment

      By analyzing the hydrological data of 1940-2013, the multi-year variability of the flood flow was determined, and the probability of floods was calculated. The calculated results of flood probabilities allowed us to classify flood scenarios: low-probability floods – 1 time in 200 years (probability 0.5%), medium-probability floods – 1 time in 100 years (probability 1%), high-probability floods – 20 1 time per year (probability 5%), very high probability floods – floods that are likely to occur 1 time in 5 years (probability 20%). Taking into account the flood parameters corresponding to these scenarios, flood hazard categories were determined for them. These parameters were calculated for all settlements located along the river.

      “Flood hazard and risk maps” were drawn up in GIS format on a scale of 1:10,000 for the Zayamchay basin in accordance with the mentioned categories of flood hazard. These maps made it possible to identify areas at risk of flooding.
      Flood Risk Management Plan in Zayamchay Basin

      1. Institutional and Organizational Practices

      An important principle of Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) is the proper management of water resources in a single river basin.
      Research conducted in the Zayamchay basin showed that there is no river basin management in Azerbaijan. Azerbaijani legislation, primarily the Water Code, does not create the necessary basis for water management in the basin, including flood risk management. As a result, there is uncertainty in local planning, water and flood management in an integrated framework. Accordingly, the use of water resources of rivers, the prevention of flood risks, the maintenance of the ecological balance in the river basins, responsibility, making the correct decisions in advance, and effective management are impossible.
      In order to eliminate gaps in the management of water resources, including river basins, amendments to the Water Code of Azerbaijan and other legislative acts, state administration regulations for integrated management of river basins

      should be done and new foundations should be created. Therefore, ETSN, MES, Reclamation and Water Management OJSC, NGOs dealing with ecology, scientific departments should put forward the initiative to make changes in the legislative acts about Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM) before the Government and Parliament of Azerbaijan. ETSN should be the main organization in the organization and completion of these issues.

    • 2. Measures to create Flood Monitoring and Early Warning System:

      Establishing an Early Warning System is the first and most important element in the early prevention of Flood Risks. Aghbaslar hydrological station is located in the Zayamchay basin only in its middle stream, the station has primitive hydrological measurement and observation equipment. The meteorological station near the river basin is located in Gadabay. The current monitoring system does not allow obtaining sufficient data for early warning. Such a situation is typical for all river basins of Azerbaijan. The number of existing monitoring stations is few in mountainous basins and they are not equipped with modern equipment and devices. Therefore, the installation of monitoring stations equipped with modern and flexible equipment and the creation of a central warning system are urgent tasks in the Zayamchay basin, as well as in other mountain river basins. The development of the Early Warning System is directly related to the duties of the National Hydrometeorology Department of ETSN.

      3. Measures to reduce Flood Risks:

      The assessment of flood impacts in the Zayamchay basin, the studies conducted in the flood zone, as well as the meetings held in local government offices and the collected data revealed that many measures still need to be taken to prevent the negative effects of possible extreme floods. Similar problems are typical for other mountain rivers of Azerbaijan. Undoubtedly, the solution to these issues is only Integrated Flood Risk Management, that is, including all steps: flood warning system, flood protection, flood preparation, emergency preparedness, response to flood damage elimination (rehabilitation measures), etc. should be managed by taking measures.

      In the future, activities in the socio-economic field in the Zayamchay basin: construction of houses, roads, bridges, hotels, recreation centers, expansion of agricultural fields, construction of pipelines and water channels, water use, production of construction materials in the river valley, etc. should be carried out in a planned manner, taking into account the flood regime, hydromorphology of river valleys, ecological characteristics. Planning and implementation should be based on the basin principle, not within administrative boundaries. This will help reduce future flood damage and maintain the ecological balance in the basin.

      Within the framework of the project, concrete measures to reduce the risk of flooding were proposed for settlements and socio-economic facilities located along the Zayamchay. Some of them are presented in the following maps as an example. Gadabey, Tovuz, Shamkir RIHs should carry out the planning of socio-economic activities in the basin in coordination with MES and ETSN.

      Project team: C.f.d. M. Mansimov, C.f.d. M. Musayeva, Ph.D. G. Mammadova, Ph.D. E. Aliyev, Z. Mehraliyeva