Steppe under threat
Pros and cons with the construction of the Eurasia and Volgo-Don-2 canals
Viktor Minoransky (Living Steppe Association and South Federal University, Rostov-on-Don)
An historical overview of waterways between the Caspian Sea and the Sea of Azov and from as early as 1569 to the present day is given. It is noted that the constriction of water reservoirs on the Manych and Don Rivers contributed to the economic development of the area in many ways, eg. they made navigation and fisheries possible and also boosted agriculture. The negative impacts of these hydro-engineering projects are described, it being noted that many of the consequences are becoming worse over time.
A new waterway is proposed to be built along one of a possible two routes. The pros and cons of these two routes, namely the Eurasia Canal and the Volgo-Don-2 Canal, are discussed. The importance of the Kuma-Manych Depression for the conservation of biodiversity is summarised and threats to nature relating to the construction of the new canal are listed.
The paper states the new canal cannot be supplied with the required amount of water without there being adverse effect on natural ecosystems and the economy and, in particular, reducing the water supply for the local population. The paper briefly discusses the expected environmental impacts for both routes, namely, the continued mineralization of water, raising of watertable, waterlogging, salinization of surrounding areas and the disturbance and destruction of wildlife habitats, including those of species that are hunted. The ecosystems of nearby protected areas are also likely to become seriously stressed.
The cost-effective balance of both routes is discussed and it is stressed that alternative solutions must be considered.
Any decision on constructing a new waterway from the Caspian to Azov Seas must be made after a thorough and unbiased assessment of impacts on the environment, economy and public health has been conducted and all possible measures to reduce environmental impacts are addressed.
Reservoirs, hydro-engineering, navigation, waterways, waterlogging, mineralization, salinization, protected area, biodiversity, Ramsar site, arid biom, desertification, environmental impact reduction, Manych-Gudilo, Kuma-Manych Depression, Eurasia Canal, Volga-Don-2 Canal, Kalmykia, Stavropol Province, Rostov Province, Volgograd Province, Caspian Sea, Sea of Azov, steppe
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