IRKUTSK, July 20. /TASS/. Russia’s Federal Agency for Subsoil Use (Rosnedra) will consider exploring and licensing an alternative water intake in the Irkutsk Region in East Siberia to preserve the world’s largest freshwater body, Lake Baikal, acting Regional Natural Resources and Environmental Minister Oleg Kravchuk said on Monday.
Rosnedra will consider using the Kitoi underground freshwater deposit in the Irkutsk Region to build a water intake alternative to the existing water system on the Angara River, he said.
"It is necessary to hold additional exploration of the deposit and put it on the balance sheet and then hold a licensing tender. These are federal prerogatives and Rosnedra has received the corresponding instructions. In turn, the region undertakes to build infrastructure for the deposit and some company of regional or municipal ownership could get a license for its development," the regional minister said.
Low water levels at Lake Baikal caused by climate change disrupted the operation of water intakes in the tail bay of the Angara River last winter.
Russia’s Federal Agency for Water Resources predicts that the situation with water levels at Lake Baikal will not improve in the next few years.
As an alternative option, the regional authorities could switch to water intake from the Kitoi underground water reservoir to supply water to the towns of Angarsk and Shelekhov, the minister said.
Scientists of the Irkutsk National Research and Technical Institute estimate the project of developing the Kitoi water reservoir and building a water intake at about $105.5 million at the current exchange rate.