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Environmental Concerns for the Volga Delta, Russia

46.7N 47.8E

July 8th, 2009 Category: Lakes, Rivers

Russia - June 21st, 2009

Russia - June 21st, 2009

The Volga River and Delta stand out as dark green areas in this image of Russia along the shores of the Caspian Sea. Dark brown sediments pour into the sea from the river.

Despite the seemingly dense sediments visible, regulation of the Volga through construction of a series of dams has reduced sediment supply to the delta and prevented the spawning migrations of sturgeon and other fish.

These dams have adversely affected the natural hydrology of the river, in other ways, such as causing reduced river flows for much of the year and irregular, aseasonal flooding.

The Volga is also subject to serious pollution from industrial and agricultural sources. There are huge unregulated industrial complexes along the Volga dams, while the floodplain of the lower Volga is intensively cultivated, with extremely high levels of pesticide and herbicide use.

Here, such chemicals have incited algal growth, visible as green- and blue-colored areas in the Caspian Sea.

A further problem, of currently undetermined cause, is the recent and ongoing rise in level of the Caspian Sea. This has led to a northward retreat of the foredelta, so that the Ramsar site is becoming inundated and increasingly dominated by deeper, open water.

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