Posted 20 февраля, 15:21

Published 20 февраля, 15:21

Modified 20 февраля, 17:47

Updated 20 февраля, 17:47

After us the deluge! Who and how poisons drinking water in Moscow

After us the deluge! Who and how poisons drinking water in Moscow

20 февраля 2023, 15:21
Ирина Мишина
Man, as you know, is 80% water. Water is necessary for the proper functioning of all his organs – from the circulatory system to the brain. However, the catastrophic state of water intake from the rivers near Moscow leaves no chance for clean water. The petition of environmentalists has been sent to the President of Russia.

Irina Mishina

Activists of the Moscow Regional organization of the All-Russian Society for Nature Protection and the coordinators of the ECORADE project addressed the editorial office of NI. According to them, near the water intake sites at the Istra, Klyazma and Khimki reservoirs, in violation of environmental regulations, a relict forest is being destroyed and irreparable damage is being done to the ecosystem.

Drinking water mixed with construction debris?

"3 sections of the sanitary protection zone of the reservoir were immediately filled with construction debris. In particular, in the area of the cottage village "Bolshaya Voda" of the Istra district. During the construction of the cottage settlement, the backwater was blocked and the riverbed was filled with construction waste. All this is happening against the law. It is known that Article 65 of the Water Code of the Russian Federation prohibits the plowing of land and the placement of dumps of eroded soils within the boundaries of coastal protective strips of reservoirs", - says environmental activist Nadezhda Pereverzeva.

There used to be a river on the site of this embankment road. But the road turned out to be more important than clean water…

"The mass construction of sanitary protection belt sites and the dumping of garbage and sewage in these places leads to the fact that the water in the drinking water intake area will become about the same as the citizens see it within the city itself. Probably, if Muscovites found out that the water that gets to their table from an ordinary water pipe is taken somewhere in the Luzhniki district or opposite the Moscow Kremlin, many of them would stop not only drinking this water, even filtered, but would also stop taking a shower and even washing with this water, as they would not have been convinced that this water was brought to standard quality at special water treatment stations", - Anton Khlynov, a member of the Commission on Environmental Well-being at the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, believes.

According to the current sanitary and epidemiological norms, all sources of drinking water supply, as well as the main tributaries of rivers of the first order, that is, directly flowing into rivers, are located in the first and second zones of sanitary protection zones. The main purpose of these zones is to protect sources from clogging and depletion. However, officials of the Basin and Water Management have issued a permit for the development of a business protective zone of reservoirs near the water intake sites.

The situation is similar with the contamination of water intake sources - and other sources of drinking water supply. So, eco-activists found illegal permits for discharges into the Khimki reservoir, where such fish species as pike, perch, ruff, bleak, carp, catfish, crucian carp, roach, bream live. Information about discharges is located in the state water register, which contains information about who and when discharge permits were issued in violation of the law.

The Klyazma reservoir, one of the largest artificial reservoirs in the Moscow region, located north of the capital, also became a victim of officials of the Moscow-Oka BVU. It was formed in 1937 as a result of the construction of the Pirogov hydroelectric complex on the Klyazma River. Its main task is to ensure the sustainable water supply of Moscow, as well as the regulation of the water level in the Moskva River and Klyazma.

Another egregious case was recorded by environmentalists on the Ucha River, the main watercourse of the Uchinsky reservoir, water from which also flows to water treatment plants. This is the largest reservoir belonging to the Moscow-Volga canal. It is used at the Eastern Water Supply Station, as well as at the Northern Water Supply Station, which supply the capital with water.

"The collection of wastewater by merchants goes directly to the reservoir itself, and this is not a single discharge, there have already been about 4 of them. How much wastewater enters the reservoir and, accordingly, threatens the places of water intake, it is impossible to say for sure today, but this is a fact. However, now there is a runoff in the area of Dolgoprudny, 8 discharges into the Klyazma reservoir have been recorded – this is done by various organizations from sole proprietors to municipal enterprises. In particular, we "caught by the hand" the Municipal Unitary Enterprise "Engineering Networks of Dolgoprudny", LLC "Aquasport" is dumping in Khimki, sewage of JSC "Vodokanal Mytishchi" is dumping into the Uchu River. Many of them have been issued official permits by the Moscow Oksko-Basin Administration to discharge wastewater in the immediate vicinity of the sanitary protection zones of drinking water sources, contrary to the Water Code of the Russian Federation", - said the Deputy Chairman of the National Water Council Maria Orlova.

"Every year the federal budget spends billions of rubles on clearing water bodies, including within the framework of the national project "Ecology", and officials of the Moscow-Oka basin of the water management actually destroy these reservoirs by their actions. The issuance of permits for wastewater discharge is contrary to the Water Code of the Russian Federation. Whoever signed and issued these documents knew in advance that he was going to violate the law", - said Anna Romashina, a profile expert, a graduate of the Timiryazev Academy.

We sent a request to the head of the Moscow-Oka Basin Management V.G. Astakhov with a request to explain what grounds were found for issuing permits for the discharge of wastewater into drinking water sources in these cases.  At the time of publication, the editorial office had not received a response. If it arrives, we will certainly publish it.

This approach to drinking water intake sources is probably based on previous regulatory legal acts. As you know, in February 2021, the legislative restriction on the privatization and turnover of plots in the 2nd zone of sanitary protection zones of drinking water sources was abolished.

And before that, in December 2019, the heads of Moscow and the Moscow Region, S. Sobyanin and A.Vorobyov, by their joint resolution, "demolished" all regulatory legal acts of the government of the RSFSR adopted in the period from 1940 to 1974, which established the boundaries and modes of sanitary protection of water supply sources of the Moscow water pipeline, repeatedly reducing the area of protected areas. They have disappeared in Moscow and the Moscow region, contrary to the requirements of the federal Sanitary regulations of 2010. Today, only the interregional regulatory act of 1980 is valid – the Decision of the executive committees of the Moscow City Council and the Moscow Regional Council, the effect of which is limited to the territory of the Forest Park Protective Belt of Moscow no further than 20-25 km from the MKAD.

"Golden" water purification

Many may have a question: after all, there are several water treatment plants in Moscow, will they not save the situation with the pollution of water intake sources?

Yes, there are 4 water treatment stations in Moscow. Their total capacity is 6.37 million cubic meters per day. Water is purified and supplied to the city of Rublevskaya and Western stations, from the Volga – Eastern and Northern stations. As reported to "NI" in JSC "Mosvdokanal", the share of the Moskvoretsky source (Rublevskaya and Western water treatment plants) in the production of drinking water for the city's water supply was 66.3%. But even these powerful stations will not save the situation.

"If at first water treatment plants can still cope with the pollution of natural water intakes, then over time, with the degradation of river and near-water ecosystems, the effectiveness of technical methods of water purification decreases sharply. At least, water treatment up to the standard quality of "table" water will become much more expensive. Harmful bacteria will get into the water, which the treatment facilities will stop coping with at some point", - said Anton Khlynov, a member of the Commission on Environmental Well-being at the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation.

Having gone through all the stages of water purification during the filming of one of my films at the Western Water Treatment Plant, to be honest, I was horrified: the condition in which the water enters the station is frankly frightening.

It's not just the gray-brown color of the water and not the amount of garbage that is visible even to the naked eye, but the bacteria that were shown to me in the laboratories.

Samples of water taken from drinking water sources contain a huge number of cladocerans – crustaceans that inhabit reservoirs, and clostridium. For reference: bacteria of the genus clostridium produce the most powerful of the known poisons – butulotoxin. In addition, water runoff causes massive reproduction of cyanobacteria in the water. Their explosive growth in the places of runoff is visible in the photo.

"As a result of the runoff to the places directly adjacent to the sanitary protection zones, the river will become a source of cyanobacteria, which will begin to decompose explosively, the reproduction of blue-green algae will begin. This will be a disaster for the drinking water supply. The toxin of blue-green algae acts on the central nervous system of animals and humans, this manifests itself in the occurrence of paralysis of the limbs, a failure of the rhythm of the central nervous system. With chronic cyanotoxin poisoning, the number of red blood cells decreases, tissue respiration is inhibited. Immunity is falling. In terms of the impact on metabolic processes and tissue respiration of animals and humans, blue-green algae toxin is extremely dangerous", - ecologist, hydrologist, corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences Viktor Danilov-Danilyan told NI.

A new rise in the price of housing and communal services can not be avoided?

There are only two ways out of this situation: to import water from other regions, or to build new water treatment facilities.

"If you do not limit the development in the catchment area of water bodies, do not eliminate runoff in places that are sources of drinking water supply of the metropolis and its agglomeration, you will have to build expensive sewage treatment plants and spend a lot of money on it. If water becomes unavailable for epidemiological reasons, water will have to be imported from other regions, which in turn will also lead to a multiple increase in the cost of the housing and communal services system.  It's not just about drinking water. If the runoff from houses, cottages and SNT goes straight into the river, it will no longer be safe to swim there", - Anton Khlynov, a member of the Commission on Environmental Well-being at the Public Chamber of the Russian Federation, believes.

In any case, the water treatment system can become "golden" in case of contamination of places of sanitary protection of water supply. It will cost a lot of money. Where to get them from? Of course, from the population. As a result, utility tariffs for water will increase. The second way is to pay for everything to the state. But in this case, taxes will rise. That is, the same people will pay, but in a different way. There is a third option: to do without additional cleaning at all. But it will be a terrible threat to the health of a huge number of people. And what is all this for? In order to build several buildings in a cottage village?

It seems that businessmen have a simple logic: "After us the deluge!".