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Water management component of the program Revival of Old Industrial Bases in Adaptation to climate change in river basins of Dauria: ecology and water management the Northeast China in Inner Mongolia (20032030) contains detailed justication for the rapid water diversion and ow regulation in the Argun (called Hailar in the upper reaches) River basin, including construction of two large canals for water diversion and 10 reservoirs (Honghuaerji, Zhaluomude, Daqiao, Zhashuhe and others see Fig.4). This will ensure water supply for growing cities (Hailar, Yakeshi, Manzhouli), development of irrigated agriculture, building of thermal power plants that use local coal (Dayankuangqu deposit and coal-red power plants in the valley of the Imin River) and others (China Engineering Academy, 2007). Simultaneously China also develops programs for water-conserving irrigation, air cooling systems and circulating water supply systems in industry, etc. Nevertheless from 2003 to 2015 in four prefectures in the eastern Inner Mongolia 10-fold increase in industrial water use was planned, mainly through the creation of coal energy complexes (Thirsty coal, 2012), as well as substantial growth of water consumption in agriculture and for the environmental purposes like tree planting in grasslands and converting lakes into reservoirs (arrangement of green spaces and environmental transfer into the Dalai Lake). Planned increase in the average long-term water consumption by only already constructed or approved for construction reservoirs in the Hailar River basin will be up to 11,5 km3 of water per year. In addition, the canal Hailar-Dalai is designed to transfer more than 1 km3 / year. In total this will make more than 60% of the average long-term run-off of the Hailar -Argun River. The water infrastructure projects and principal protected areas in transboundary Dauria shown on Fig.4.

In depopulated Russian part of the basin consumption of water is minimal and most concerns arise in relation to mineral extraction and processing, with a large uranium mine being of the most concern.

In Mongolia National Water Program it is stipulated, that along with water-management the measures include excessive amount of planned reservoirs for adaptation, hydropower, irrigation, supply to mining sites, etc.

Fig. 4 Water infrastructure projects and principal protected areas in transboundary Dauria Adaptation to climate change in river basins of Dauria: ecology and water management Water quality in the transboundary Argun River deteriorated sharply after 2000. This is partly connected with advance of long-term dry period (reduced volume of water in the river resulted in increased concentrations of dissolved pollutants), and partially with the rapid development of industry in China. Approximately during the last ten years there have been continuing discussions of this problem between the Government of Zabaikalsky Kray and Inner Mongolia. These discussions did not yield any tangible results, as the Russian side has no effective tools to inuence the Chinese side. In connection with development plans for water use, industry and irrigation, as well as with population growth, the situation in the Argun River basin should be expected to worsen in the near future.

Water transfers Hulunbeier Prefecture (Inner Mongolia, China) has completed construction of a canal to divert water from the Hailar River to Lake Dalai for the environmental purposes. The project has passed the necessary approvals in the Ministry of Water Resources, Ministry of Environmental Protection and other relevant departments in China.

Average long-term run-off of the Argun River in the place where the Argun-Hailaer River reaches the Russian-Chinese border is about 3,5 km3 per year, and in dry period the runoff hardly exceeds 1,5 km3 per year. The projected average long-term water transfer is 1,05 km3 without use of pumping and regulation by reservors upstream. If the ow is regulated by water reservoirs and/ or installed pumping equipment, water allocation can be increased. At the length of 200300 km downstream from the planned water intake, the Hailar River is the only signicant source of water for the Argun River.

The water transfer project was suspended in summer 2007, after expression of concern from the Russian side at the ofcial negotiations of the heads of two states. The matter was passed for discussion at the meetings of relevant water authorities, at which the Chinese Ministry of Water Resources expressed an unambiguous opinion that the canal construction is a purely internal matter of China, and it is not to be discussed at bilateral meeting.

Obvious purpose of the canal construction is to provide water for sh farming, tourist facilities, municipalities and mining industry. The threat to Dalai Lake Ramsar site from mining was even mentioned in the Resolution X.13 of the COP10 of the Ramsar Convention in 2008. Construction of the canal diverting water from the Hailar River will become a new justication for the water allocation from Dalai Lake to many mines and factories around.

The canal was built and started operating in August 2009 (see Fig. 7.15 on p. 109). It is expected that by 20122015 water diversion through the canal will cut oods feeding the Argun River oodplain and in general substantially change the volume of the river runoff.

The following consequences are possible as a result of water regime alterations in the transboundary part of the Argun River valley due to upstream reservoirs and canal:

Regulation of river ow will disturb existing ood cycle, leading to drainage of wetlands;

River meandering will stop, natural braided channel will degrade, leading to degradation of wetland habitats structure;

Reduction of wetland areas threatens populations of migrating and nesting birds, including 19 globally threatened species listed in the International Red List;

Migration routes will be disrupted in the entire area of Dauria steppes;

Flood control will disturb ooding and replenishment of soil with nutrients in oodplains, and thus will reduce the pastures and hayelds on which peoples survival depends during droughts;

Aridization of climate in the Argun River valley will occur, which will worsen conditions for growing crops and cause desertication;

Concentrations of pollutants in the waters of the Argun River will increase;

There will be worsened water supply conditions for Zabaikalsk settlement with the largest customs checkpoint, Priargunsky mining chemical factory, settlements along the river, etc.;

The deteriorating conditions will force inhabitants of the settlements located in the border areas of China and Russia to move to other places.

Consequences of the water transfer for Dalai Lake in China may also be negative:

Increase of the inow from the Hailar-Argun River will lead to concentration of pollution in the lake, posing a threat to public health, sheries and tourism;

Disturbance of the natural cycle of water level uctuation will affect diversity and productivity of the lake that has been converted into human-made reservoir.

There are other water diversion projects planned in the region:

from the Kherlen River (Kerulen, Kelulunhe) to Gobi in Mongolia to supply South Gobi mining industry and exports of added-value products (washed coal).

from the Halhin Gol River (Halahahe) to Xilingol coal mining areas in China to support development of coal-burning thermal power plants.

Hydropower development All water infrastructure projects are interrelated and implementation of one of them increases probability of implementation of other projects to deal with negative consequences.

Dauria has very poor and risky conditions for hydropower development due to highly variable ow with dramatic climate cycles, remoteness from large industrial consumers and other limitations. Despite several dozen perspective dam locations suggested here during the last century not a single hydropower plant has been built.

However, a new hydropower initiative is targeting the largest river in Dauria right now. EuroSibEnergo-En+, the largest independent power producer in Russia, and China Yangtze Power Co. (CYPC), the largest Chinese listed hydroelectricity producer, now prepare for joint investment into power plant construction projects in Eastern Siberia. The owner of EuroSibEnergo-En+, the Russian billionarie Deripaska claims that China and Russia could jointly develop large hydropower in Siberia to reduce Chinese dependence on coal. EuroSibEnergo-En+ proposed Trans-Sibirskaya Hydro in Zabaikalsky Province, on the Shilka River the source of the Amur River with 450 kilometer long reservoir (Fig.5), that in length will occupy roughly a half of the Shilka River proper. It will fully block the Shilka River watershed, disrupt important migration corridor between the Amur river and northern Dauria, exterminate oodplain communities unique for Dauria, drown 130 important historic sites and 20 settlements. Reservoir will be contaminated with rotAdaptation to climate change in river basins of Dauria: ecology and water management Fig.5 Planned reservoirs of Transsibirsky (Trans-Siberian) ting wood and toxic substances from mining complexes upstream, it will exterminate local sh including giant Kaluga Sturgeonendemic of the Amur. CYPC and Three gorges Co. eye this project on the source of the Amur as a rst step to build dams on the Amur River main transboundary channel. Right now EuroSibEnergo(En+) develops feasibility study to obtain investment from EXIM Bank of China and other sources.

This project was continuously questioned by regional scientists and environmentalists. In March 2012 a wave of actions in defense of the Shilka River initiated by WWF and local NGOs rolled through the Amur River basin from headwaters to the ocean and it impressed hydropower company. On World Water Day En + Group and WWF Russia signed agreement to hold a joint comprehensive study to assess the impact of hydroelectric plants on the ecosystem of the Amur River Basin. The purpose of the study is to produce balanced account of all the key factors, including environmental and socio-economic, that should be considered when deciding on the possible development of hydropower potential of the Amur basin and construction of new hydroelectric plants.

Such a comprehensive strategic basin-wide environmental assessment will be conducted for the rst time in the history of hydropower in Russia and the Soviet Union.

Prior to the completion of studies and discussing its conclusions with the public En + EuroSibEnergo promised to suspend work and negotiations on the Trans-Siberian hydroelectric project on the Shilka River. The decision on the future of the Trans-Siberian hydroelectric project company should be based on the conclusions of a comprehensive environmental assessment.

If such an assessment was conducted in Dauria river basins only, it would not make much sense, since much better conditions for hydropower development exist in adjacent basins to the North (the Lena River), West (the Yenisey River), East (the Zeya and Bureya tributaries of Amur River).

Mining industry is on the rise in Dauria and its impacts on rivers are very obvious.

Extraction of placer gold has the longest history and widest distribution among mined minerals. Placer gold mining transforms relief, hydrological regime, destroys plant and animal communities. It is also known to induce decease and abnormal development in humans and animals. Besides, devastation of key element of the habitat stream valleys, mining process may bring mercury and other pollution. In China this mining has resulted in degradation of signicant part of wetland and riverine habitat that requires sciencebased ecosystem management and restoration measures, while in Russia and Mongolia it is also on-going destruction in previously pristine river valleys. This publication presents ndings of assessments of gold mining impacts on river valley ecosystems, assessment of potential pollution in streams, and essence of mining policies in Russia, China and Mongolia. China somehow has already stopped gold rash but has to deal with profound consequences and bear costs of habitat restoration and developing alternative livelihood opportunities for local people. Mongolian society has just realized tremendous threats to nature and people and the government under strong pressure from expert community and civil movements started implementing measures to limit mining in valuable areas. Russia is boasting greatest amount of rivers already destroyed by mining and is on the verge of starting new mining operations which will lead to massive destruction of most valuable remote wilderness areas of Dauria. Gold mining on transboundary rivers already led to ofcial complaints by Mongolia authorities and civil society towards Russian ofcials in 20102011.

Relation between the state border line and natural changes of the riverbed (erosion and sedimentation processes) is a hot issue in Sino-Russian negotiations. In the present situation the agreed border follows the center of transboundary ever, each party independently decides the issue of preserving stability of demarcated state border, including undertaking articial bank protection which may lead to erosion of the opposite bank, destruction of the natural oodplain dynamics at this section, loss of natural retention areas in oodplain reservoirs that reduce the risk of catastrophic oods, loss of spawning grounds, etc.

This issue is most relevant for the Argun River, where negative environmental impacts of bank protection have never been formally evaluated by governments. Natural riverbed processes (meandering) are cyclical in time and are limited by oodplain areas (i.e., they may cause only local and temporary loss of limited areas). A sound common regime for the protection and use of oodplains and for demarcation of state border should be elaborated, that preserves the natural oodplain processes. Coordinated establishment of the system of protected wetlands on transboundary rivers in the long term may also help to solve the problem. Resolving this problem has enormous long-term environmental, economic and political effects, because ecological integrity of the river will be maintained, Adaptation to climate change in river basins of Dauria: ecology and water management enormous costs to control riverbed processes will be reduced, the damage to sheries will be eliminated, ability to self-purication will be maintained, and damage from oods to downstream areas will be prevented (not increased). Obviously, there will be eliminated mutual claims of both parties that regularly arise under the present regime of border demarcation.

Uncoordinated water resource development aimed to secure water on the individual national territories would have devastating effects on the transboundary wetlands. While conict is possible, the countries have different comparative advantages and have a lot to share. There are hopeful developments in each country: China has strong National Wetlands Protection Policy and Action Plan that prescribes water allocation to important wetlands (2003). Russia adopted new Water Code prescribing development of Standards of acceptable impact (SAI) for environmental ows, as well as chemical, thermal, radioactive and microbial pollution (2007), Mongolia adopted a new law On prohibition of mining in water protection zones(2009).

From many multilateral conventions the Ramsar Convention is one of the most relevant policy tools in the Amur-Heilong River basin with 15 wetlands already listed under convention. The Ramsar Convention Regional Initiative approach provides a suitable framework for multilateral cooperation on transboundary water management and transboundary environmental ows for wetland conservation, but the three countries are slow to realize it.

All three countries also have bilateral agreements on Use and Protection of Transboundary Waters, which lack clear mutual obligations and their implementation so far has not led to appropriate integration of water management across the borders.

It is necessary to initiate establishment of Chinese-Russian-Mongolian intergovernmental commission on economic and ecological adaptation of nature resource management policies in Dauria to changing climate conditions with the aim to ensure favorable environmental and political situation. The Commission is needed primarily for the development and implementation of water management regimes, mutual endorsement of economic projects that might have a signicant impact on transboundary ecosystems, as well as for the joint application of best technologies and management practices.

One of the most needed international tools is the Agreement on environmental ow norms for transboundary rivers of Dauria river basins and provisions for sustaining natural dynamics when planning water allocation to wetlands.

Extensive list of the literature is at the end of every part of the report, has in whole more than 100 references in different languages.




Collection of scientic papers of Daursky Biosphere Reserve 70100. 8.10. 2012.

-, .: (302-2) 26-02-47, 26-07-58, 32-25-67, : 26-02-65,

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