Water Level in Baikal Can Fall under the Minimum Mark This Year

The level of water in Lake Baikal, which is the world's deepest lake with its 1,620 metres, can fall under the minimum mark set by the federal legislation, said Nikolai Tarasov, first deputy Russian Minister of Natural Resources, head of the state water service.

According to him, climatic reasons account for this. As a result of an insufficient flood level, the influx of water to Lake Baikal and the Angara-Yenisei water reservoir cascade is much slower than was forecasted (its speed is around 450 cubic metres per second against the 650-950 cubic metres expected). As a result, the level of water in Baikal is close to minimum, which is, according to the Law on Protecting Baikal, 456 metres below sea level, Tarasov said. Meanwhile, the water reservoirs of the Angara-Yenisei basin are only 25% filled.

The official does not rule out that if the summer is rainless, the level of water in Baikal, the Bratsk, Krasnoyarsk and other water reservoirs of the Angara-Yenisei basin can further reduce. As a result, "hydroelectric power plants will face problems this year, as well as navigation on the Angara and the Yenisei," he said. The Angara is the only river effluent from Baikal and flowing into the Yenisei, one of the major Siberian rivers.

As "the decrease in Baikal's water level means almost 200 million KW of electric energy," such fluctuations are set in the Russian Cabinet documents," Tarasov said. He does not rule out that in case of a rainless summer, the Natural Resources Ministry will have to request the Russian Cabinet to adopt a relevant document. He stressed that this would be the first precedent in the Ministry's practice.

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