Mitigation History of the Industrial Hg Contamination in the Nura River Watershed of the Republic of Kazakhstan: Evolution of an Adaptive Management Approach
In this paper, we briefly describe the clean-up and remediation of a major watershed in Kazakhstan, the Nura River, that was impacted by rapid industrial development during the Soviet era, leaving a legacy of mercury pollution impacting hundreds of thousands of people. Fresh waters, including rivers, lakes, glaciers, groundwater, man-made reservoirs and canals represent less than 3 percent of the earth’s water. Watersheds are closely linked ecosystems that are natural units of analysis and management. Over the last century, the use of freshwater systems has grown at an unprecedented rate to supply and support industrial and agricultural production. Remediation of damaged watersheds and sustainable water management are important tools to minimize the impact of the human activities, especially industrial activities, on the ecosystem services provided by a healthy watershed. Based on engineering reports and data, we discuss the importance of adaptive management strategies, flexibility, and place-based Hg remediation criteria, as well as the value of stakeholder input in a polycentric project management approach.
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