by Gennady ROSENBERG, Corresponding Member of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Director of the RAS Institute of Ecology of the Volga Basin (Togliatti)
The Volga is the longest and the most full-flowing river of Europe, important for the economic development of Russia's biggest region. How do the river and the whole Volga basin are faring?
The situation is a function of many factors.
They have been taken into account by the designers of our expert information system that has collected and evaluated a huge array of ecological and economic parameters.
Middle and lower reaches of the Volga. Space photo.
Science in Russia, No.4, 2011
Statistical information helps visualize the scale of this search object. Here are some data. The length of the Volga (in fact, Russia's "main street") is 3,500 km, with as many as 2,600 rivers and rivulets flowing into it. The Volga brings near 250 km3 of water to the Caspian Sea annually. Its basin stretches for 1,910 km from north to south and for 1,805 km (in the upper reaches) from west to east, and its total area is 1,36 mln km2 (62 percent of the European part of our country). Today more than 40 percent of Russia's population lives there, and 45 percent of industrial production and 50 percent of agricultural is there as well.
Unfortunately plants and factories on the Volga's banks use the river as a free bin for waste waters. Annually 20 percent of the effluents are flown into it and its tributaries. Almost 30 percent of the total discharge of harmful substances gets into the atmosphere of the Volga region's populous cities. Still another ecological factor: in the late nineteen-hundreds this area was the site of 26 problem-solving nuclear explosions for peaceful purposes (geared toward of the national economy), that is nearly 20 percent of their total number made in the Soviet Union. The result of this persisting load is a steady pollution of water and bottom sediments.
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