Lake Baikal turns into swamp because of alien algae

One of the central natural wonders of Russia, Lake Baikal, has recently been a source of troubling news. Every week, volunteers remove tons of garbage from the coast of the deepest fresh water lake on our planet, while officials try to handle the consequences of the closure of a pulp and paper mill. Now it is environmentalists who sound the alarm. In their opinion, Baikal turns into a swamp.

The pearl of Siberia suffers from algae that appeared as a result of discharge of liquid waste, specialists said at a round table discussion that was held in Irkutsk. The meeting was dedicated to the pollution of Lake Baikal.

According to SIA, a recent social-scientific expedition discovered that in Chivyrkui Bay, about 160 tons of liquid waste are produced in one season. Waste discharge triggered the multiplication of alien algae, such as Spirogyra and Elodea canadensis. The lake is being waterlogged, co-chairman of the regional public organization Baikal Environmental Wave, Marina Rikhvanova said.

Inspectors found a significant accumulation of green algae and dead lake mollusks during a research mission to the northern coast of Lake Baikal. They surveyed the coastline from the mouth of the River Tia on the right side to Senogda Bay. The inspectors pointed out the poor state of the coast at a distance of four and eight kilometers from the mouth of Tia. Clogs of rotting algae were found on the coastline. The same problem was found in Listvenichesky Bay: healthy sponges could not be found there.

Local residents, says the publication, complained to environmentalists that domestic liquid waste easily drains into the lake. Many tourist bases and campings deliver wastes to special organizations, but garbage vehicles may very often dump garbage into Baikal or rivers that flow into the lake.

Water transport is another reason for concern. According to the Baikal Environmental Wave, ships, boats, yachts and other vessels annually produce 25,000 tons of liquid waste, but only 1,600 of them go for processing.

As a measure to combat the waterlogging of Baikal, ecologists suggest equipping garbage vehicles with satellite monitoring devices to track the delivery of waste to recycling plants. In addition, one needs to reduce the production of wastes by education and the introduction of new technologies. It was also offered to support environmental business projects and initiatives of local residents.

Meanwhile, another round table discussion was held in Irkutsk. The meeting was devoted to measures improving legislation on the protection of water resources by the example of Lake Baikal.

Minister of Natural Resources and Ecology of the Irkutsk region, Oleg Kravchuk, said at the meeting that as a result of the move to close the Baikal Pulp and Paper Mill at the request of environmentalists, the unemployment rate in the region rose from 1.2 to 6 percent. About 2,000 people are in need of new jobs. Local residents continue staging street protests seeking attention to their problems.

Due to existing environmental constraints, said Kravchuk, it is only low added value companies that can operate. The industry share is less than one percent. As a result, the average salary in the area is 1.5 times lower than in the region. At the same time, the local population refuses to move to other settlements and does not want to engage in tourist business.

The minister proposed to improve the situation by creating environmentally friendly enterprises. The legislation of the Irkutsk region was changed to allow the construction of plants to bottle water, process vegetable and fruit.

The participants of the meeting noted that the main problems of the lake today include pollution caused by water transport, untreated sewage discharges and lakeside garbage.

As for measures to combat waterlogging, a costly innovative solution was put forward - the first eco-friendly vessel Trofim Yaskin. The vessel may become the platform for the development of technologies to prevent the spread of green algae.

The vessel is to be created with the use of unique developments. In particular, it goes about the technology to recycle sewage water into fuel, as well as eco-friendly recovery of solid waste technology that eliminates condensation. The ship will be equipped with an UAV, solar panels and a wind generator. The project was evaluated at 12 million rubles.


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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov