Water Level Changes

Significant changes in water levels, particularly dropping levels, can be caused by

1. excessive withdrawal of water from lakes and/or their inflowing or out flowing rivers, and

2. the diversion of the inflowing water.

The consequences of water-level changes include: decrease in lake volume and/or surface area; unstable shoreline area communities; changes in lake ecosystem structure; reduced fish spawning areas; increased water retention time (decreased flushing rate), which can accelerate other negative lake processes (e.g., eutrophication, retention of toxic substances); and increased salt concentration, leading to reduced water quality for human uses.

Lake Aral is probably the most illustrative example of this problem. Due to uncontrolled use of the inflowing river water for irrigation, the water level in the lake was reduced by almost 20 m. The lake was divided in two lakes, Large and Small Aral, with together less than half of the original lake area and with a salinity 10 times what it was 40 years ago.

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