The HPP has nothing to do with it, and so does Baikal. The Head of the Surface Water Modeling Laboratory of the Water Problems Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Doctor of Technical Sciences, Mikhail Bolgov claims
“For example, in Buryatia, contrary to the logic, they say that that the water in the wells disappears due to the lowering of the Baikal level. Look, but even if we lower the water level in Baikal by 10-15 cm, it will affect the wells at a distance of 50 meters, a maximum of 200 meters, from the coast. But not dozens of thousands of kilometers.”
The scientists see only one reason: the rivers in Buryatia are dying. L. Rossolimo, whom we already mentioned earlier, wrote about it more than half a century ago, “The development of the timber industry gave impetus to a significant expansion of timber rafting both along the tributaries of Lake Baikal and along the lake. The rivers of Selenga, Barguzin, Verkhnyaya Angara and Kichera, Turka, Itantsa, Goloustnaya and many others became rivers for floating timber... The floating of loose wood along the rivers quickly resulted in the fact they got jammed with peeled bark and dead heads. The rivers become shallow, are polluted and become unsuitable for the spawning of the most valuable commercial fish”.
It’s high time we asked the government of Buryatia: what they have done to normalize water supply to the settlements of the republic? It turns out, they did nothing. They have been receiving complaints for 4 years, only complaints, nothing more. Maybe in the 21st century we should abandon the wells, create a pond in each village and arrange snow retention? This can’t be called drinking water, but it will be suitable for cattle and technical needs. Then people could begin to save water, and in the meantime the government could develop the program “The Pure Water of Buryatia” and construct normal water pipelines.
The main source of industrial waste that carries not only excess heat, but also oil products, ether-soluble fats and salts of heavy metals, is Ulan-Ude, as it is stated in the book titled “Baikal in Questions and Answers”. Up to 200 thousand cubic meters of waste per day are discharged into Selenga and its tributary Uda, and a third of that waste comes without sewage treatment! The river tries its best, the waste waters are diluted 450 times, but even upon such dilution, the consequences are unavoidable. Omul suffers most of all, “Up to 97-98% of roe die from poisoning at the spawning grounds in Selenga, downstream to Ulan-Ude”. “The self-purification ability of this mighty river is exhausted; now it can’t cope with the pollution entering it. Alongside with the waters of the river, the pollutants are carried to Lake Baikal and spread along the shallow waters of Selenga and the adjoining water zone on the area exceeding 1500 sq.km,” conclude the editors of the sixth edition of the book published in 2017. And you ask what the Irkutsk HPP has to do with it.