Field observations showed that the characteristics of chemical composition of waters and the development of plankton
algae in the lakes within the delta of the Selenga river are determined by their flowage. The most open Lake Nekipelovskoe communicates with the Selenga outlets throughout a year, and Lake Zavernyaikha only at the period of an open channel. Lake Semenovskoe and Lake Khlystov Zaton are located in the islands and are isolated from the outlets. According to composition of main ions, the lakes under investigation refer to the hydrocarbonate class, the calcium group. The sum of ions in the water of Lake Nekipelovskoe approaches the one in the Selenga (86–221 mg/dm3), and the highest sums of ions were recorded in the wintertime in the lakes isolated from the outlets (446–743 mg/dm3). The lakes of the delta are characterized by a high trophicity. The maximum concentrations of total phosphorus in Lake Nekipelovskoe and Lake Zavernyaikha were 68 and 122 μg P/dm3, and in Lake Semenovskoe and Lake Khlystov Zaton 177 and 119 μg P/dm3, respectively. The most intense development of algae is observed in Lake Zavernyaikha, which is due to the high population of Baikal endemics. Lake Zavernyaikha showed a close negative correlation between the concentration of NO3–, mineral phosphorus and phytoplankton biomass; the correlation coefficient was –0.8 and –0.63, respectively. The lakes exhibited increased contents readily hydrolysable organic matter, and a decrease in dissolved oxygen concentration in winter; hydrogen sulfide was repeatedly recorded in Lake Khlystov Zaton. The water quality in the lakes during the springtime varies from “quite clean” to “weakly polluted”; at low-water periods, especially in winters, it can drop to the category of “exceedingly dirty”. The water quality of the Selenga can be influenced by the lakes during spring floods when material accumulated during the wintertime is transported to the river outlets and further to Lake Baikal.