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New warnings of shocking pollution threatening Lake Baikal

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08 February 2016


Almost no facilities in Listvyanka to sufficiently cleanse the sewage. Picture: Yana Rudavina

The latest warning on pollution at Baikal - this year marking its 20th anniversary as a UNESCO World Heritage Site - comes from the Limnological Institute of the Siberian branch of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Researchers has identified domestic sewage from hotels and camping sites on the lake's shoreline. They said there were almost no facilities in Listvyanka to sufficiently cleanse the sewage. All samples showed chemical and microbiological contamination, including fecal. 

The experts say that a downward trend registered in the lake's ecosystem since 2011 have now reached the proportions of an 'environmental crisis' at 25 million year old Lake Baikal.

Spirogyra, an algae unusual for the lake, is growing actively, while unique fresh water sponges that play a huge role in the lake's well-being are dying. 

New algae

Scientist takes samples

New algae was found in Baikal waters. Pictures: Science First Hand

They discovered dark maroon balls 0.5-1.5 cm in diameter in samples of Baikal water. These were made from a huge amount of cyanobacteria including spirogyra and diatom algae, and they are thriving at a depth of 20 to 35 metres. 

The researchers blame human activity on the shore, said local media reports. For example, domestic sewage rich in phosphorus is nurturing spirogyra.

In November 2014 West Baikal prosecutor's office started inspecting all the cleansing facilities collecting sewage on south-west shore of Baikal.

In March 2015, the prosecutor's office filed five cases demanding an end to violations in the operations of sewage cleansing facilities in the villages of Listvyanka, Angasolka, Kultuk, Slyudyanka and the city of Baikalsk.

Comments (2)

It is important to protect Bailkal lake and other to increase the ecotourism in Sibéria. Many wonderful landscapes and wildwife in your country
Jocelyne, FRANCE
11/02/2016 19:48
We also struggle with human behaviors creating contamination here in the United States and the devastating effects on our environment. I hope that the authorities in Russia with the influence to change the handling of the sewage will take the steps to do so, including providing the funds (if needed) to install/upgrade proper treatment facilities. This is critical to our entire global eco-system as well as the correct action to take care of and protect Lake Baikal and the communities directly impacted certainly.
Pamela Tetarenko, League City, USA
08/02/2016 20:20

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