published on Environmental Earth Sciences DOI: 10.1007/s12665-014-3435-y
Since it is representative in terms of environmental and socioeconomic conditions, the Kharaa River
Basin in Northern Mongolia was chosen as a Central Asian model region for the development and implementation of a science-based approach to Integrated Water Resources Management (IWRM). While a highly continental climate results in limited water availability, the combined effects of climate and land use changes and rising water consumption are likely to intensify quantitative and qualitative water scarcity. In such a context, water contamination due to deficient treatment of domestic, industrial and mining-related waste waters is particularly critical, putting at risk human health and aquatic ecosystems. In the recent past, water governance structures in transitional countries like Mongolia have not permitted to respond effectively to such complex challenges. In the Kharaa River Basin however, considerable improvements in the scientific basis are currently coinciding with political reforms incorporating river basin management as a guiding principle. This paper provides an integrative assessment of recent advancements in the basin and in the country and gives an outlook to a future IWRM implementation in the region.