Lake Balkhash, Kazakhstan



Lake Balkhash is a large (18,000 km3), closed, and slightly saline lake in the south-west of Kazakhstan. It is divided into two basins, a south-western and an eastern basin. These have somewhat different limnological conditions, but the most obvious one is that the south-western basin has a salinity of <2 g L−1 whereas the salinity of the eastern basin is ∼4 g L−1. Numerous fish and invertebrate introductions, many successful, have been made. In 1969, a dam impounding the Kapchagay reservoir was constructed on the River Ili, the major river flowing into the lake. The impoundment of water in this reservoir caused a fall of some 1.5 m in the water-level of the lake. This fall, together with other events on the catchment, caused considerable damage to reedswamps in the lake, to the fishery and to conservation values. A number of suggestions has been made on how to prevent further damage. Some, particularly those involving a moratorium on further filling of Kapchagay reservoir and irrigation, have been implemented, at least in part. This has caused some remission in environmental damage and provides for cautious optimism with regard to the lake’s future. Even so, the environmental status of the lake remains vulnerable and many dangers persist.

Key Words

Balkhash River Ili Kapchagay Reservoir Kazakhstan Iimnology fisheries saline 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1992

Authors and Affiliations

  • T. Petr
    • 1
  1. 1.Fisheries DepartmentFAORomeItaly

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