Caspian region under concern of Environmental Scientists from Switzerland | Eurasia Diary - ednews.net

14 July, Tuesday


Caspian region under concern of Environmental Scientists from Switzerland

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Lately, the Caspian region is becoming more attractive for environmental scientists from across the world. 

Azerbaijan is one of the five countries that takes some larger portion around the Caspian Sea. This is in fact, the largest lake in its distinctive geography that has no connection to the ocean. The isolation of the Caspian Basin together with its climatic and salinity gradients has created a unique ecological system with some 400 species endemic to the Caspian waters.

In the current situation, many Caspian species are threatened by over-exploitation, habitat destruction, pollution, and climate change. It reflects negatively on human well-being, social and economic sectors, and environmental services.  

Three scientists representing universities of relevant studies and one of who was from Switzerland visited Baku this week to be closely introduced with the Caspian region and its water resources as well as building a broad network of scientists in Azerbaijan to make an exchange of experiences. 

Professor Vera Slaveykova, the Vice-president School of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Geneva University, Professor Mikhail Egorov and Olga Egorova from Astrakhan State University were guests of International Eurasia Press Fund (IEPF).  

During the meeting, the scientists shared their impressions, especially talking about issues about water contamination, micro and nanoparticles and many other elements affecting the water resources and environment. The guests also discussed possible ways of cooperation with IEPF in terms of building a strong network with universities and scientists as well as getting students involved in this field of science. 

At the end of their visit, among the participants, Professor Vera Slaveykova from the University of Switzerland spoke to EDNews sharing her experience and practice in the Geneva Lake. She explained that the studies and researches through hard work could make their project fruitful in the purification of the water in the formerly contaminated Geneva Lake. 

Professor Slaveykova is an environmental chemist with more than 20-year experience in trace element chemical speciation, bioavailability and impact to aquatic microorganisms. She is presently a Full Professor in Environmental Biogeochemistry and Ecotoxicology, at the Department for Environmental and Aquatic Sciences and the Institute for Environmental Sciences at the University of Geneva. 

- When she gave an interview, she first outlined the purpose of the visit to Azerbaijan.

- We initially started a project in Switzerland and entitled its education on the network for sustainable water resources’. The project that I am going to present in Azerbaijan together with my colleague professor Mikhail Egorov aims to look for new opportunities and discuss with new potential partners to expand our network, including Baku State University (BSU), Azerbaijan National Academy of Science (ANAS). I would also like to mention that last year we organized summer schools and advanced training. 

Besides that, I want to brief that water is a multi-phased science and our field of science learns mostly issues with environment and ecology. In this sphere, we are more than happy to cooperate with young scientists in Azerbaijan from different backgrounds, and I want to add that we also see the International Eurasia Press Fund as a significant potential partner within this cooperation.    

- Considering the Caspian Basin to be the only resource of water with its flora and fauna for this region, it is going to be under threat of contamination after overexploitation of the sea. What would be the best practice or the most advanced technology to prevent the pollution of the Caspian basin? 

- Unfortunately, this is a global issue where many countries have the same problem, especially those that utilize sea as the flowing base of sewages. Can you imagine how much chemicals flow within that wastewater, which after a certain process it even turns to be a life-threatening toxic substance? 

Based on our researches, the toxic substances in the water are also caused by sewages, in which it makes chemical reactions. 

The first option for protecting the sea is by maximum to prevent flowing waste liquids into the sea. Then it is important to preserve it as long as it gives an opportunity to the natural ecosystem via internal processes to self-purify. In order to learn this better, it requires discovering the main source of pollution, and to define what happens with different contaminants inside our ecosystem and what are the processes are.  

The second option is the importance of making accessible information for the public. Having the knowledge of the environmental conditions of the Caspian Sea, as well as of the causes and effects of changes in these conditions, which is an indispensable prerequisite for action to keep the Sea clean and preserve its rich natural resource base for present and future generations. 

- What can you say about your practices fighting against the problem of environmental pollution of water resources on the example of Geneva Lake? 

- We love Geneva Lake as much as Azerbaijanis do love the Caspian Sea. Many people in Geneva love fishing and use the lake for recreation and a source of drinkable water. It is not direct use but of course, after the treatment process, many people can use it as drinkable water. Nowadays, the water quality of Geneva Lake is very high. Sometimes the treatment does not seem to be necessary despite minimal.

About sixty years ago, Geneva Lake was highly eutrophic. It means there was a very high concentration of different nutrients and mainly phosphorus in there. 

Due to the increase in population and the excessive flow of chemical substances, such as detergents through sewerage systems into the lake it caused to generate a high concentration of chemical substances. One of the important things I would like to mention that Lake is situated between Switzerland and France. As this process was observed by two countries, the special commissions from both of these countries came together to sign a treaty for safeguarding and special protection of the Lake area. After the treaty, the water quality parameters were checked and then it was decided to stop both sides using the water of the Lake. At the next step, we introduced our specific water treatment plans that undertook removing phosphorus from the water. Luckily, today after the removal process the phosphorus in the water has been minimum, which is the acceptable level for the use of the water for drinking. 

Therefore, we are here today in collaboration with the partners and colleagues to apply the post-experience in the protection of the environment and increase of quality of water resources.

By Elnur Enveroglu 

EDNews

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