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Escherichia coli and entire periodic table: Danger of water in Dnipro river

Author : Olena Holubeva

Source : 112 Ukraine

The situation with water quality in Dnipro, the main Ukrainian river that supplies Kyiv with drinking water, is rapidly deteriorating. The river is polluted with chemicals. Due to the lack of laboratory studies, the content of some of them in water is not monitored. The situation is no better in terms of microbiological indicators. Even near the Dnipro beaches specially designated for swimming, an excess of E. coli is recorded, which indicates the bacteriological pollution of the river. Today it is better to refrain from swimming there. At the same time, you can still drink tap water in Kyiv. Another thing is that due to the deterioration of water quality in the Dnipro, Kyivvodokanal is forced to strengthen the cleaning processes, which may cause an increase in the tariff for cold water for Kyiv residents in the near future
13:42, 24 June 2021

Open source

Why is it unsafe to swim in the Dnipro

If you look at the dynamics of the last twenty years, today we are seeing deterioration in the condition of the Dnipro River, head of the Main Directorate of the State Food and Consumer Service in Kyiv, Oleg Ruban told 112ua.tv. According to him, the reason for the pollution of the main waterway of Ukraine, from which, moreover, the whole of Kyiv drinks water, is in untreated sewage. Most of them contain a high concentration of phosphates and organophosphates.

Due to the increased concentration of phosphates, the Dnipro receives more bacteria. According to the head of the Main Directorate of the State Food Service in Kyiv, the shift in the period of flowering of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae) is of great concern.

"If in 2003 and 2005 the river" blossomed "only by September, then this year the process began much earlier, in May," he says.

Over the past 20 years, their concentration in the water supplied to the Bortnicheska aeration station has increased 5 times. Wastewater treatment plants cannot cope with such a load.

"Phosphates have become a real disaster for the river. They provoke the multiplication of cyanobacteria (blue-green algae), which causes the river to bloom. These bacteria kill fish, which simply do not have enough oxygen," said the head of the State Environmental Inspection Andriy Malevaniy to 112ua.tv.

And if phosphates, which are indicators of the deterioration of the chemical state of water, can be found on the basis of samples tested in laboratories, other chemicals are not controlled due to the lack of laboratory studies.

“This does not mean that one can be sure of their absence in water. I am sure that the entire periodic table is present in the Dnipro today,” Oleg Ruban told 112ua.tv.

The Central Geophysical Observatory announced, in particular, about high concentrations of heavy metals, especially chromium, manganese in the Dnipro reservoirs in the areas of large cities.

Bacteriological pollution is also a problem along with chemical pollution.

In water samples from the Dnipro, a lactose-positive bacillus is found (serotype O157: H7 can cause severe food poisoning in humans and animals).

"If phosphates are an indicator of chemical contamination, Escherichia coli is an indicator of high bacteriological contamination. If it is detected, it is possible to suspect the presence of other infectious and parasitic pathogens in the water that cause various diseases," Oleg Ruban told 112ua.tv.

According to the results of an extreme study of water samples in open reservoirs, which was carried out on June 18, an excess of the lactopositive E. coli index was found on 8 out of 14 beaches designated for swimming.

Is the water in the taps of Kyiv safe?

As you know, due to the water intake from the Dnipro (through the Dnipro waterworks), one third of the drinking water needs of the residents of Kyiv is covered (it supplies about 150 thousand cubic meters per day). The rest is provided by the Desnyanska station (up to 500 thousand cubic meters per day) and water from artesian wells (10% of the total demand).

The water intake process is associated with water processing activities, Oleg Ruban emphasized.

Kyivvodokanal is equipped with modern installations that purify any water. By organoleptic, sanitary and chemical indicators, Kyiv water meets the best international standards. Kyivvodokanal today copes with the problem one hundred percent. We are now only talking about how unsafe it is to swim in the Dnipro, "the head of the Main Directorate of the State Food and Consumer Service in Kyiv assured 112ua.tv.

Related: Delta strain of Covid-19: Ukrainians not recommended to travel to four countries

However, one should not think that there is absolutely no connection between the quality of the water in the Dnipro and the water that flows from the taps in Kyiv apartments. Deteriorating water quality in the Dnipro leads to higher costs for high-quality purification and preparation of drinking water. The volume of reagents and materials used is growing. This means that the tariff of Kyivvodokanal, which has remained unchanged for several years, may soon rise, an official well-familiar with the situation told 112ua.tv anonymously.

Earlier the Kyivvodokanal said that the deterioration of water quality in the Dnipro has a negative impact on the quality of water supplied for treatment before being supplied to consumers, the general director of Kyivvodokanal Dmytro Novitsky told reporters.

"Our technology, which provided for a certain quality of output water, did not envisage current changes. We maintain the quality of water under appropriate control, we comply with the strict requirements of SanPin compliance (hygienic standards), but the situation is getting worse. Modernization is required," said Novitsky.

Who pollutes the Dnipro?

Ironically, one of the main polluters of the Dnipro is Kyivvodokanal itself. There are five water utilities in the top ten of the top-100 pollutants rating in terms of polluted wastewater discharges - in Kyiv, Dnipro, Lvov, Mykolayiv and Zhytomir, Malevaniy told 112ua.tv. In 2019, 723.2 million cubic meters of wastewater were dumped into the Dnipro only within Kyiv, of which 40% were unprocessed. More than half were discharges from industrial enterprises. A significant part of the volume of all discharges - 283.3 million cubic meters - accounted for Kyivvodokanal.

The last time the State Environmental Inspection checked Kyivvodokanal was from 6 to 19 February.

Various enterprises, including car washes, create unauthorized drainage systems without an appropriate purification system and drain everything directly into the Dnipro.

Illegal construction on the banks of the Dnipro leads to the ruin of the banks, destruction of slopes, destruction of flora and fauna, as well as pollution and littering of the river. The issue of control over illegal construction within the boundaries of coastal protection zones is the competence of the newly created State Inspectorate for Urban Construction and Architecture, which has not yet begun to work.

One of the reasons for the large-scale pollution of the river is the lack of an effective waste management system. Today, 22% of the population in Ukraine does not have access to waste collection services. People throw garbage on the banks of reservoirs, Malevaniy stressed.

"The Dnipro is threatened by an ecological catastrophe. The banks of the river are littered with garbage, which is washed off into the Dnipro with rains and settles on the bottom. As a result, the reservoir becomes shallow and polluted," the head of the State Environmental Inspection said in a comment to 112ua.tv.

Another scourge of the Dnipro, although not so formidable against the background of chemical and bacteriological pollution, is the water nut. Due to the dominance of this parasitic plant, the area of ​​the Kyiv reservoir has already decreased by 100 square km, and Kaneivsky - by 140. Water nut kills aqua fauna (it grows very densely, does not let in sunlight and absorbs oxygen). It is traumatic for swimmers and often tears the rubber boats of fishermen with the sharp edges of the petals.

Measures to clean up the Dnipro from the plant were not carried out, since it was listed in the Red List. Public organizations actively advocated that the water nut be removed from the list, and this happened last year. This means that now there is no responsibility for the destruction of the water nut.

“Considering that the plant is no longer listed in the Red List, no liability is envisaged for its removal during work on the lands of the water fund. Such work can be carried out, in particular, with the involvement of contractors. This should be a large-scale project for which funding is required. The Ministry of Environmental Protection and Natural Resources may start cleaning the Dnipro from water nut," said Andriy Malevany.

What needs to be done to reduce the rate of pollution?

Control over water resources is one of the main areas of work of the State Environmental Inspection. The inspectorate monitors the observance of environmental legislation by enterprises - potential polluters of the river. The State Food and Consumer Service deals with water quality issues.

The Inspectorate at least once a year conducts scheduled inspections of enterprises, checking compliance with environmental legislation in all areas. Unscheduled inspections are also carried out on the basis of citizens' appeals. But last year, the activities in the field were limited by a moratorium on scheduled inspections. For this reason, many violations remained outside the attention of the inspection.

Among the top-priority steps, experts single out the inventory of rainwater drainage collectors and the transfer of infrastructure to the balance of utilities, elimination of illegal inserts into the storm drain, reconstruction of surface wastewater treatment systems. The corresponding order, by the way, has already been prepared. It remains to be hoped that it will be fulfilled.

It is necessary to develop and approve a comprehensive program for the rehabilitation of the Dnipro, which will involve the central and local authorities, the public sector.

Related: OSCE SMM spots 166 violations of ceasefire in Donbas on 22 June

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