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Groundwater resources in shallow transboundary aquifers in the Baikal basin: current knowledge, protection and management.

The present report is a contribution to the Project Integrated Natural Resources Management in theBaikal Basin Transboundary Ecosystem, implemented by UNDP and funded by the GEF. The reportwas prepared by UNESCO-IHP, one of the project’s Executing Agencies and partners, in cooperationwith the UNESCO Chair on Water Resources at Irkutsk State University (Russia), Irkutsk StateTechnical University, the Geological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences – Siberian Branch,the Baikal Institute of Nature Management of the Russian Academy of Science - Siberian Branch,the UNESCO Chair on Sustainable Groundwater Management, Mongolian Academy of Sciences -Institute of Geo-Ecology, the Institute of Meteorology, Hydrology and Environment of Mongolia, theMineral Resources Authority of Mongolia, Tsukuba University, Japan, and other national andinternational partners.
The report consolidates the results of activities under Output 1.3 of the Project, which were focusedon the assessment of groundwater resources and their interaction with surface water in thetransboundary basin of Lake Baikal. As a central element the role of groundwater in sustaining thefunctioning of the unique ecosystems of Lake Baikal was explored. This included the identificationand description of potential threads to these ecosystems in terms of quantitative (groundwater leveldecline) and qualitative (pollution) aspects. Priority was given to unravelling the hydrological,hydraulic and hydro-chemical interactions between surface and groundwater, with specific regard toshallow aquifers in fluvial/alluvial deposits and their interactions with adjacent rivers and lakes.
A central task of the group was the identification of groundwater-related issues of transboundaryconcern, such as upstream groundwater resources degradation, potential transboundary transportof pollutants, groundwater pollution, groundwater depletion due to aquifer overexploitation, as wellas the risk and uncertainty related to climate change impact on different types of aquifers. Besidesthe investigation of the biophysical aspects, the assessment also included a review of groundwatermanagement practices, and legal/institutional frameworks for transboundary (ground)watermanagement.
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