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The Volga was turned into a machine by the Soviets. Then the machine broke.


stoyan fasev

Since nearly all Volga cities and towns – and Moscow across the canal – end up using the river to supply them with water, this pollution comes with a hefty bill for water treatment. “The worse the water in the Volga, the more expensive it is to make it drinkable,” notes Demin. Given that the Volga basin houses 60 million people, about half of the Russian industry, and a similar part of its agriculture, the costs are increasing.

A recent analysis compiled by Carbon Brief, a UK-based climate media outlet, put the USSR and Russia in third place in the world in terms of greenhouse gas emissions of all time. A national assessment report compiled by Russian climatologists in 2014 stated that at the time of human-caused climate change, the country’s average annual temperatures were rising twice as fast as the global average. The report also stated that the trend is expected to continue. The effects of climate change fueled in part by Soviet industrial development are already visible across Russia, from the degradation of permafrost to desertification in the country’s agricultural southern regions. The large-scale industrial development that generated the waters of the Great Volga and was supported by the river’s water also contributed to the global problem of climate change – which has now brought the threat of water scarcity to the millions of people who live in cities along the Volga.

When I visited the last knot in the waterfall, Cheboksarskoe Reservoir, about 370 miles east of Moscow, in 2010, I saw an algal bloom that made the water look like a witch’s liquor.

Nearby Cheboksary, the capital of Chuvashia, one of Russia’s many ethnic republics, was leafy, quiet, and welcoming when I visited. I was part of a press tour organized by RusHydro, the owner of the waterfall, who was lobbying the government to increase the water level in the reservoir. Years later, it’s still five meters below where RusHydro wants it to be, because the Cheboksarskoe Reservoir is where the Big Volga project finally stumbled after four glorious decades.

By the mid-1980s, he was with the soundMikhail Gorbachev decided that the Soviet Union could do with more press freedom and transparency, allowing citizens to discuss and even criticize their government’s decisions. And so the irreversible environmental damage on the Volga became part of a broad public conversation as well. A 1989 book about the river called the people behind the construction of the reservoirs that “turned the life-giving waters of the Volga into dead water, without doing anything about it.” “All over the world boasted that the Volga-Matushka [mother-river] She has been tamed many times, and they still call themselves her sons, and those who have tamed her have condemned her to a long, dreadful and agonizing illness. ”

“For whose land is destroyed and water polluted so that someone else can earn money?”

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