In 2020, the issue of water supply for drinking water and sanitation will be identified as one of the priorities on United nation agenda.
According to the US Central Intelligence Agency, each year a lack of access to quality drinking water leads to the deaths of one million people worldwide.
According to the international statistical resource worldometers, only from the beginning of 2020 this figure reached 124 596 people. Ukraine, according to the organization’s statistics, takes the twenty-fourth, last, level on the quality of drinking water.
We are used to linking the problems of access to drinking water with the hot and arid regions of the world. However, the problem is much deeper and tomorrow may affect each of us. UA-Times journalists decided to find out how acute this problem could become for the people in Kyiv.
The big dnieper
“It roars and groans the wide Dniepr”, – this is how great Kobzar Taras Shevchenko described the largest waterway of Ukraine.This is probably one of the most recognizable, along with Nikolai Gogol’s words about “A rare bird that reaches the middle of the Dnieper!”, A quote that many associate with the central waterway of the capital.
However, Dnieper has not been roaring for a long time, but rather groans. He is now moaning from many factors – from small household discharges to the global problem of the shallowing of a once deep-water resource.
In this context, the words of Gogol specifically look significant. Rather, a monument established by their motives.The sculpture “Rare Bird” by Alexei Vladimirov is now located only 200 m downstream from the largest bank on the Dnieper, located within Kyiv.
The Dnieper in this place began to actively back in the early 1970s, after the construction of the upstream dam of the Kyiv reservoir (1962-1968). And after the construction of the Kanevsky reservoir (1972-1974), the situation generally became critical. Then, in 1974, to solve the problem, several auxiliary half-dams were urgently built on the river, which partially blocked the flow, forming stripes 500-700 m across the channel with a depth of 1-1.5 m.
However, such measures only partially solved the problem, since the construction of dams only slowed down the shallowing of the river. For more than four decades, the problem has remained “invisible” through the visual effect of full-flow. already in 2015, the shallowing of the Dnieper again spoke about the problems. In that year, for the first time in a long time, water did not fill the coast during the spring high water period – in some places it deviated from the steady water edge by 20-25 m!
Since 2015, formation of new islands and shoals has been observed in this area. And starting in 2018, the process of shallowing has acquired the character of a planar, forming huge shallow areas on a section from the Paton bridge to to the South Bridge. Today the problem is still unresolved – every year the water in the Dnieper is becoming less.
“Do not drink, you will turn into a kid”
However, the water that still remains today, in terms of quality, can not pleasing Kyiv residents and capital’s guests.
UA-Times journalist collecting water for analysis
We gave several samples of water from the Dnieper for analysis to one of the capital’s laboratories and received a disappointing conclusion – water in the Dnieper today is not suitable even for technical purposes. not just drinking, it’s not worth swimming in it.
According to the research results, the water in all three samples exceeded the maximum permissible concentrations (hereinafter – the TLV) of harmful substances in several indicators at once. In particular, river water is saturated with heavy metals, the most dangerous, among which is nickel. With prolonged exposure to organisms, its compounds can cause cancer.
Iron (indicator 0.14 mg / dm3, TLV 0.10 mg / dm3). In the waters of the Dnieper, the maximum permissible iron content for drinking water is greatly exceeded. This concentration of both dissolved and small-fraction iron in water leads to the appearance of a metallic taste and a yellowish tinge of liquid.
At the same time, this indicator in the studied samples reached as much as 0.14 mg / dm3. That is, if we take 100 liters of such water, which we use in everyday for a week, we get the equivalent of iron equal to one mobile, which in our pocket.
With the constant use of such water, disturbances in the functioning of the gastrointestinal tract and the appearance of a variety of allergic reactions are possible. If nothing is changed further, the use of such water will lead to the destruction of liver cells, disruption of the cardiovascular and endocrine system.
Copper (indicator 0.014 mg / dm3, TLV 0.001 mg / dm3). Despite its low concentration in water, copper can significantly affect your well-being, because its compounds quickly enter the blood system, and from where quickly spread throughout the body.
Drinking water with a high copper content can cause severe headaches, dizziness, weakness, and nausea. The reason for this is the slow elimination of copper compounds from the body. You will permanently feel the symptoms of poisoning until the last milligram of metal is removed from the body.
Chromium (indicator 0.0012 mg / dm3, TLV 0.001 mg / dm3). The excess of chromium in water is relatively insignificant – only 0.0002 mg / dm3. However, this is fully offset by its activity in interaction with the human body.
For a relatively short period of time, water with an excess of chromium can lead to stomach ulcers, as well as severe irritation of the mucous membranes of the body.
Nickel (indicator 0.007 mg / dm3, TLV 0.001 mg / dm3). Nickel is involved in many metabolic processes within the human body. At the same time, it is one of the most toxic elements, especially its soluble compounds, which most often enter the body just with water. Excess of this element in the body disrupts the functions of the cardiovascular system, the work of the gastrointestinal tract and nervous system.
Long-term use of water with an excess of nickel leads to chemical poisoning by nickel – impaired hearing, vision, and central nervous system. In addition, as already indicated, nickel is a powerful carcinogen.
Water resources, making its course slowed down over the entire length. The construction of huge dams on the Dnieper completely stopped in these places the seasonal migration of fish to spawn.Therefore, in the capital’s waters for a long time you will not see either the beluga or the sterlet, which our parents still remember well.
According to the National Museum of Natural History of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine, only over the past 20 years in the Dnieper 5 separate species of ichthyofauna have disappeared. This, in addition to the already mentioned group of sturgeons and beluga, also such fish as stellate sturgeon, roach, goby (a species of carp) and laurel.
However, the extinction of certain species is associated not only with the construction of hydropower facilities. Significant water pollution also contributed to the destruction of biological species of the Dnieper’s natural riverbed. So, the place of roaches and carp that are familiar to us in the river today is occupied by a variety of pathogenic microorganisms that feel pretty good in the warm wastewater of domestic sewers.
According to the results of our laboratory studies, the waters of the Dnieper today are saturated with several rod-shaped forms, characteristic of polluted and very polluted reservoirs.
According to the UA-Times study, a significant amount of microbiota, not typical for the water environment of the rivers, was revealed in the water sample taken in the Darnitsky railway bridge area.
These are predominantly “thermophilic” pathogens, that is, those that can cause temporary health problems, such as diarrhea, dehydration, dizziness, vomiting, etc. The abundance of the latter in the selected samples was 320 thousand cells / ml.
Such a microbiological composition of the Dnieper water is characteristic of waters polluted by domestic wastewater. Under normal conditions – fluctuations in the daily temperature of water and lowering it below the value of +20 C, most of these microorganisms become non-viable.
However, in warm wastewater saturated with nutritious organic substances, such organisms feel surprisingly fine, moreover, they enter the phase of active division, rapidly increasing their concentration in water.
So, in particular, the Dnieper waters within Kiev contain a significant amount of enterobacteria, which indicates the influence of household discharges on the composition of water. During the period of research, the content of Escherichia coli here amounted to 880 thousand cells / liter, which exceeds the TLV by more than 70 times (!). The abundance of another fairly common pathogenic microorganism – salmonella, amounted to 90 thousand cells / dm3.