Lake Baikal in eastern Siberia is a sacred lake for the Buryat people (Buddhists) and contains 20% of the world's freshwater. It is more than 800 kilometres longs and up to 1.5 kilometres deep, and contains up to 2,500 species of plants and animals, two-thirds of them endemic. Over 300 rivers discharge into the lake. The annual catch of omul, the unique trout-like fish of Lake Baikal, has dropped by two-thirds since 1950, the primary reason being pollution in the 6 major spawning rivers. More than 40 factories pump effluents directly into the lake, including mercury and chlorine. The lake has also significantly reduced in size due to use of water for industrial and irrigation purposes.
The Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Basin has been the focus of a number of studies relating to future climate change, which is expected to affect the water quality and ecology (primary productivity, species diversity, food web dynamics) of the Basin. While the changes are anticipated to be felt basin-wide, the most pronounced effects are likely in tributary streams, bays, near-shore shallows and the central basin of Lake Erie. This could have serious implications for water quality and aquatic biota. Lower lake levels are expected in all lakes, with Lakes Erie and Ontario experiencing reductions of one meter or more. This has implications for hydropower, shipping, salt water intrusion in the St Lawrence River and it raises questions about future policy decisions on water withdrawals and regulation of lake levels.
Eighty percent of China's major rivers are so degraded they no longer support fish.