Fall in water level of Lake Baikal didn’t affect water-supply

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Fall in the water level below the minimum mark of 456.0 meters did not affect the water-supply for industrial enterprises and the population of the Irkutsk region, stated on Thursday the Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of the region Oleg Kravchuk.

On Wednesday (February 25) the Federal Service for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring of Russia reported that the water level in Lake Baikal had decreased by 1 centimeter more due to the shortage of water, dropping below the minimum mark of 456.0 meters.

The Baikal’s critical water level was limited by Decree No.234 (dated 26 March 2001) of the Russian government. The document set the minimum water level (456.0 m), and the maximum one (457.0 m). Experts and scientists stated that Lake Baikal’s critical water levels set by that Decree, especially as far as its lowest level is concerned, were not scientifically proven.

“Industrial enterprises and the population of the Irkutsk region have the complete supply of water. We don’t plan to introduce any restrictions,” said Kravchuk.

He specified that “critical levels are out of the question” because, according to the Decree “On Lake Baikal’s critical water levels in autumn-winter 2014-2015” signed by the Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, in conditions of a critical period of the shortage of water in the Baikal watershed it’s allowed to use the lake’s water resources although its water level is lower than the minimum one.

“Nowadays we work in a normal mode. The intakes have a certain supply of water, the Irkutsk hydroelectric station’s waste volumes decreased from 1,300 cubic meters per second to 1,250 which will allow managing the problem connected with the Baikal’s water shortage,” said the Minister.

According to the Russian EMERCOM data, in summer-autumn 2014 the flow of water to the lake was only 67% from the norm due to the shortage of water. The Russian government declared a state of high alert in the Irkutsk region and Buryatia in connection with the extremely low water levels in the lake.

The Baikal is one of the greatest lakes on the planet; it’s the lake of “superlatives”: it’s the deepest lake (1,637 m), the oldest one (25 million years), it is a freshwater reservoir with the most diverse flora and fauna.

The lake has a unique supply of fresh water in terms of its volume and quality (23.6 thousand cubic kilometers which is more than 20% of the world’s freshwater resources). In 1996 the lake was included in the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Text and pictures by RIA Novosti