One way to address this problem would be to build mineralisation stations along the shoreline, but this has been deemed to be too expensive. The project of building wells in villages along the shoreline was more economical. The construction of wells was financed by the state, but the depth of the wells was often less than the necessary 150 metres, and the water in these wells is saturated with iron, which you can instantly discern by its odour. This water must be boiled before drinking. While the wells are available and the residents needs them, they cannot fully solve the problem of access to drinking water. That’s because the number of tourists who come to Baikal is growing, not only in the summer, and are also in need of drinking water.
During the high tourism season, the problem of access to drinking water is somewhat relieved with the help of the additional water brought to the region in cisterns. And even if the water only costs a few kopecks, if you lived on the shore of the lake that holds 20 per cent of the world’s fresh water, would you want to pay for drinking water?
Today, if you live on the shore of Lake Baikal, you have three ways of getting clean water: grab your bucket and rubber boots, wade into the water, try to get to a deeper spot and fill your buckets yourself – in this case no one will be responsible for the quality of the water. The second way is less demanding and safer: to get the water from a well if you are lucky enough to have one in your street and don’t have to carry your buckets across three streets. And the third way is the safest of all: purchase the water, which costs mere kopecks, but then it is delivered not every day but two times a week, according to a schedule.
NGO Baikal Information Centre "Gran" www.bicgran.ru