China buys water from Baikal
Chinese citizens will get drinking water from Baikal. Tens of thousands of families in Beijing have already started to use it for drinking, cooking, reconstituting infant formulas and other needs.
The water was made available to them through the Baikal - the World’s Water Well, one example of the widening strategic cooperation between Russia and China. The Chinese Internet is full of comments such as “our great country needs a great source of drinking water, and we found it!” As for the price of the water, if we take the retail price at a very low estimate of one cent per liter, the cost of 23, 615 km3 of Baikal water would be $236 trillion, or more than 7 quadrillion roubles. That is what Baikal’s water is worth, according to Leonid Kolotilo, from the Academic Council of the Russian Geographical Society. Hence an interesting approach - to treat Baikal as a treasure vault. Pure water may come to command great prices in the future. According to experts, exporting water from the lake would do much less damage to Baikal than selling pulp made by poisoning the same water.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment suggested at the end of last year to permit construction of eco-friendly facilities in the central area of the Baikal Natural Preserve. These facilities could bottle drinking water, gather and process medicinal plants, and prepare natural medicines. Information about this project appeared on the government portal listing introduced bills. The Ministry claims water production would not pollute the environment.
Waste water from the operation could be discharged to sewerage. The bottles could be brought in from Novosibirsk.
Scientists at the Limnological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences say that bottling away up to 0.4 km3 of lake water a year would in no way undermine Baikal’s unique ecosystem. From the assessments of possible damage to the lake from Chinese imports, they are optimistic: “The Chinese can’t drink that much!”