Lake Balkhash is the second largest in Kazakhstan – after Caspian Sea – and 13th largest in the world. Its unique feature is that half of the lake has fresh water, while the other one salty. For decades, Balkhash has played its important role as a source of fish. In 1930´s, metallurgical factory was constructed at the northern coast. About 200 thousand people live around the lake or are tightly connected with it.
The lake faces serious environmental threats. Using more and more water from the rivers feeding the lake for industry and irrigation could lead to the same disaster as in case of Aral Sea. Extensive fishing led to extinction of many species and the production is still decreasing. Also impact of the metallurgy is critical and pollutes the lake especially by heavy metals that accumulate in fish and also human bodies.
Some of the main sources of pollution of lake Balkhash: