Tailor-made water solutions realized in Kazakhstan

28 Oct 2021

Our experts created a tailor-made, integrated water master plan with modern management tools to optimize development and operation of water resources in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

From March 2019 to August 2021, our experts have focused on Nur-Sultan for the Astana City Akimat (ACA) Utilities Department. The goal is to develop an integrated investment roadmap to 2050, including institutional, environmental, socio-economic and technical aspects.

Its realisation combines the expertise of Tractebel in Germany in large-scale planning and management of water resources with the know-how of GKW in state-of-the-art water infrastructure development and modernisation.

Less a case of “where to begin?” and more “how to continue?”

Nur-Sultan, formerly Astana, is the capital city of Kazakhstan. It was renamed in 2019 after the Kazakh president Nursultan Nazarbayev, who was responsible for the city’s visionary development on the banks of the Ishim River. As the economic hub of the country, its rapid expansion continues. However, equally rapid population growth and higher consumption have placed increasing pressure on city’s water resources and the environmental balance of the urban area.

These trends are aggravated by the climatic, topographic and geological conditions which make the city prone to flooding during seasonal snow melts and intense rainfall events. Summer droughts, combined with often uncontrolled water withdrawal for industry or agricultural irrigation, add to the pressure.

Facing these challenges, ACA has been investing in its water infrastructure since 2009 with the construction of new flood dykes, wastewater treatment plants, water supply and sewage networks. However, with nearly half of its households yet to be connected to sewage networks, these infrastructure investments need to be expanded both to meet the demands of current and future populations, and to make the city more resilient to extreme climate events.

Flood protection infrastructure map

A master plan and management tool tailor-made for a unique city

Establishing the basis of the IWMP first required diving into the assessment of existing infrastructure, operational performance and legal and institutional frameworks and a review of the existing pipeline of "hard" engineering projects outlined by local authorities. These were then complemented by additional project proposals aiming to build a more comprehensive approach to the known and expected challenges.

Our experts also introduced the concept of "softer" proven best practice approaches. These focused on better integrated management of water resources through increased collaboration between stakeholders, raising awareness of populations, politicians and decision makers, and institutional training and capacity building.

All hard and soft measures were then screened and evaluated through a multi-criteria analysis and organised into implementation priority tiers, ranked by their scoring and investment requirements.

An overarching planning and management tool has also been proposed. It is based on an initial content management system (to be developed into a decision support system), integrating data from different utilities and institutions.

The value of a clear plan for the optimised development of infrastructure, with an integrated management of water resources, is not only that it helps solve and mitigate existing problems in Nur-Sultan. It will also enable modern standards of quality water supply and sanitation city-wide and help reduce the environmental and economic impact of extreme flood or drought events. Significant savings in energy and resources will also be achieved by avoiding unnecessary or over-designed works.

Carlos Martins – Water Resources Engineer – Tractebel Germany

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