Lake Baikal water levels down 16 inches first time in 60 years

A decline in Lake Baikal water levels has cut well water supply and affected shallow bays, the Buryatia government press service said on Monday.

A decline in Lake Baikal water levels has cut well water supply and affected shallow bays, the Buryatia government press service said on Monday.

"Water supply has deteriorated because of the excessive drawdown of the Baikal water level in Irkutskenergo power company operations in spring and summer of 2014 and the subsequent shallow period," the report said.

Water levels are approximately 40 centimeters (15,75 inches) down year-on-year and fishermen are complaining about the absence of fish in the Selenga delta, it noted.

Buryatia head Vyacheslav Nagovitsyn ordered republican natural resources minister Yuri Safyanov to analyze environmentalists' opinion on consequences of lowering water levels in Lake Baikal at a conference on Monday.

"Check the report saying that well water is gone in littoral villages and it is time to declare an emergency situation. There will be no water for fire engines if there is a fire. Draw up an appeal to the Russian Natural Resources and Ecology Ministry, give a well-reasoned account of our situation and show together with scientists what may happen. Our peat bogs have gone dry and started burning but the Irkutsk power company wants to reduce water levels even more," the press service quoted Nagovitsyn as saying.

Lake Baikal has not been so shallow in the past 60 years. Republican authorities are interacting with federal agencies and assessment of the damage done by the power company is pending. The public has made their proposals too.

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