Not possible to have a drink beside the river: why water in Russia has become life-threatening

Not possible to have a drink beside the river: why water in Russia has become life-threatening

20 November , 17:15SocietyPhoto:
Perhaps none of the more or less large Russian rivers can be called clean. Where, then, will the high-quality water come from in the regions? People are forced to drink what they have, and then feel the consequences on their health.

More details about the state of water in rivers and failed projects - in the material of Novye Izvestia.

Water is one of the shaping factors of public health. Dirty drinking water can cause a variety of diseases, including diseases of the cardiovascular system, digestive organs, infectious diseases, and even cancer. According to Rospotrebnadzor, last year mortality from causes associated with unsatisfactory water quality amounted to 8.52 cases per 100 thousand of the population - or 0.7% of the total number of deaths.

Poor-quality water can enter the homes of Russians for a number of reasons, including old water pipes, poor treatment systems, harmful impurities, and so on. So, for example, in 2019, the share of centralized drinking water supply sources that do not meet sanitary and epidemiological requirements amounted to almost 15%. The most unfavorable situation has developed in Chechnya, Dagestan, Karelia and Kalmykia. In the country as a whole, more than 40% of water pipelines need repair or replacement. At the same time, according to the Russian Association for Water Supply and Sanitation, only 1% of the networks change annually.

Since the beginning of 2020, there have been several cases of mass drinking water poisoning in Russia. So, in January, about 100 people ended up in an infectious diseases clinic in Adygea. In Dagestan, mass poisoning occurred more than once - in January, when over 300 people applied for help, 70 children were injured in March, more than 40 people were injured in August, and more than 360 people in October, of which 265 are children.

By 2024, according to the federal project "Clean Water" (national project "Ecology"), 99% of Russians should be provided with quality water. However, in the first two years of the program, the plans were not fulfilled. So, last year, the indicator of providing the population with quality water should have increased to 87.5%. But in fact, this share turned out to be 2% less, says the report of Rospotrebnadzor "On the state of sanitary and epidemiological well-being of the population in the Russian Federation in 2019." The task was failed in 32 constituent entities of Russia, including in Adygea, Karelia, Dagestan, Yakutia, Penza, Tver, Ulyanovsk regions, etc. The indicator of providing quality water to the urban population in 2019 was also not met: 93.2% instead of the planned 94.5%.

But the supply of quality water to people, first of all, depends on the condition of the water in the sources. More than 2.5 million rivers flow on the territory of Russia. But, perhaps, not a single one is absolutely pure.

“All significant rivers flowing through inhabited regions with developed industry and agriculture are significantly polluted. The tributaries of the first and especially the second order are very polluted and extremely polluted. Most of the dirt gets into the Volga. In second place is the Ob River. At the same time, there are practically no rivers in Russia that could be considered clean", - Viktor Danilov-Danilyan, scientific director of the Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Novy Izvestia.

Almost all rivers in the country are polluted by sewage. At the same time, 88% of the waters to be treated are discharged into the rivers untreated to the required level, according to the Accounts Chamber of the Russian Federation. According to Rosvodresursy, the volume of wastewater that ended up in surface waters in 2019 amounted to 37 billion 666 million cubic meters. Over the past 10 years, this indicator has decreased by 23.43%, over 20 years - by almost 40%. However, the water quality has not significantly improved. Why? Because the diffuse runoff is not taken into account, says Danilov-Danilyan. Diffuse runoff is, first of all, runoff from the territory: from agricultural fields, industrial sites, territories of settlements, roads, as well as from shipping, etc. It is spontaneous and uncontrollable.

However, there are also problems with the statistics of wastewater from controlled sources. “ How do we know how much wastewater is discharged through controlled sources? Companies write themselves, and no one really checks this data. They do not write outright nonsense, but, as a rule, there are 30-40% lies in these data. Because the statistical forms are simple to fill out: each company knows its equipment, the equipment has a passport, which says how much different waste is generated per unit of output. Knowing its data, the company multiplies and adds, and that's it. Does it reflect reality? Only partly. Because the passport contains information about the equipment that is in perfect condition, running on high-quality raw materials, etc. Of course, there is much more dirt than according to the passport. In addition, Rosprirodnadzor does not have any capabilities - neither technical, nor personnel, nor financial - in order to carry out a full-fledged check of the correctness of filling out the forms , "said the scientific director of the Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

The dirtiest and most important river

In the Nizhniy Novgorod region, the worst water quality according to the UKIZV (specific combinatorial index of water pollution) was noted in the Kudma River, which is a tributary of the Volga. It contains sulfate ions, ammonium nitrogen and nitrite nitrogen. According to the Nizhny Novgorod ecologist Askhat Kayumov, local factories, ignoring all the requirements of environmental legislation, regularly pour sewage untreated from industrial waste into the river treatment facilities. “Kudma is no longer a river, but sewage canals”, - said Kayumov.

So, in May of this year, Kudma turned into a brown muck - because of the sewage poured into it. However, when representatives of the Ministry of Ecology of the Nizhny Novgorod Region arrived at the site, the river was already clean, they did not reveal any violations of environmental legislation. In addition, another river, Rakhma, which is a tributary of the Volga, periodically changes color - from dull white to green.

The Volga is the main waterway of the country. However, the water in it is characterized as dirty or very dirty. And in the tributaries it is even worse. It is the Volga that accounts for the main water intake, it also receives about 40% of all wastewater (2.5 million tons per year). Most of the polluted wastewater falls on the share of Moscow, Samara, Nizhny Novgorod, Yaroslavl, Saratov, Ufa and Volgograd. In 2019, in the Volga basin, the total number of cases of high and extremely high pollution increased by 15% compared to 2018.

Thus, the most common pollutants in the Nizhny Novgorod region are copper compounds and organic substances. Wastewater from the Nizhniy Novgorod aeration plant increases the content of ammonium and nitrite nitrogen, their maximum values reached last year eight maximum permissible concentrations (MPC). In the Tatarstan region, the Volga is also polluted with nitrite nitrogen and zinc compounds (up to 9-10 MPC). In addition, high concentrations of manganese compounds (up to 9-29 MPC) and aluminum (up to 2-9 MPC) are recorded there. In addition, in August 2019, within the city of Volzhsky (Volgograd region), near the left and right banks and in the middle of the reservoir, there was a surge of increased water pollution of the reservoir with oil products (from 17 to 30 MPC). And the list of typical pollutants of the Volga below Astrakhan includes organic substances (according to COD and BOD5), phenols, oil products, copper, iron and zinc compounds.

The "dirty" rivers of the Volga basin include Insar and Nuya (Mordovia), Pyra and Kudma (Nizhny Novgorod region), Kazanka (Tatarstan), Padovaya, Chapaevka, Samara (Samara region), Lama, Dubna, Sestra and Kunya (Moscow region), Koshta, Yagorba, Andoga (Vologda Region), Sit (Yaroslavl Region), Ostrechina and Gzhat (Tver Region).

Recall that since 2018, Russia has been implementing a federal project "Improvement of the Volga" (national project "Ecology"). It included 16 out of 39 regions in which this river flows. It is planned to triple the amount of wastewater entering this river by 2024. At the same time, according to Danilov-Danilyan, “an absolutely unprecedented amount” has been allocated for the “Improvement of the Volga” - almost a quarter of a trillion rubles.

However, for example, in the Nizhniy Novgorod region, the measures included in this project are considered insufficient. “ In [Nizhny Novgorod] region, about 60 treatment facilities will be repaired and built. It is perfectly. But you need 200! That is, the problem, of course, will decrease, but it will not be completely solved. To do this, we will have to extend the federal project for another 10 years, invest a lot of money, ”NewsNN quotes the words of local ecologist Askhat Kayumov .

According to Klara Romanova, Honored Ecologist of Russia from the Nizhny Novgorod Region, within the framework of the Volga Rehabilitation project, “something is being done” in terms of the construction of treatment facilities from domestic sewers. However, there is an acute question of the effectiveness of this, since the same facilities are being built according to technological schemes as 60 years ago, while the quality of the water is such that it requires additional purification. Romanova was able to give only one positive example for the entire Nizhny Novgorod region and the surrounding regions - Kstovo, where there is additional water purification, designed for both fecal waste from the population and industrial waste. She also noted that waterworks in the Nizhny Novgorod region were built in the last century. That is, the source water is deteriorating, but the technologies remain the same.

The data provided by official sources should probably not be trusted. If we talk about what we see, it is, among other things, the ingress of oil products into the Volga for three years in the area of the former oil depot. The fact that we [in the Nizhny Novgorod region] do not have sewage treatment plants in large cities by storm drain is also a fact. As for the discharge of insufficiently treated wastewater, this is probably almost 100% at all the sewage treatment plants that we have, I mean treatment plants. Also, we have a change in biological composition - we have been observing for 15 years blue-green algae, which from July until freezing along the Volga”, - Romanova told Novy Izvestia.

Danilov-Danilyan notes that the Volga Rehabilitation project has been implemented for the third year already, but things are not going very well. “ The allocated funds are largely not used. Because the project was not developed in the best way - without the necessary contacts with the expert community, the situation, in principle, was not assessed from a scientific point of view. In addition, almost all work is focused on the constituent entities of the federation through which the Volga flows, and a very large part of the pollution is brought by its tributaries , ”he says.

The highest priority, according to Danilov-Danilyan, turned out to be housing and communal services, that is, a significant part of investments is directed to cleaning communal wastewater, which is not entirely justified, the expert believes. “ No attention is paid to diffuse effluents, which are called point or controlled. And the runoff from the territory is largely spontaneous, uncontrollable. In addition to a negligible amount, less than 0.1% of the total funding, nothing was provided for the research work that was carried out in 2018–2019. Meanwhile, the diffuse runoff accounts for more than half of all pollution entering the Volga, ”the source added.

“In my opinion, it is necessary to resolve the issue of the Volga at the federal level, since only 40 km are left of it. Everything else is a cascade of reservoirs. Such regulation can lead to the destruction of the river as such", - says ecologist Romanova.

Danilov-Danilyan, in turn, proposes, in the course of 2021, without haste, to radically revise the project “Improvement of the Volga” for the period 2022–2025. “The project was prepared in a hurry, and as a result, big money is spent, and expectations of a serious result are reduced ,” he stressed.

“The river needs to be dealt with as a whole, the whole basin. What is a pool? For example, the Volga basin comprises 39 federal subjects. It is necessary to provide for the interaction between them, it is necessary to assess the contribution of pollution sources and prioritize, which is determined by the environmental efficiency of investments. This work was not carried out along the Volga, ”added the scientific director of the Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

Extreme water pollution

According to official data, in 2019, 3,095 cases of high and extremely high water pollution were registered in Russia - in 55 regions of Russia. This is stated in the report of the Ministry of Natural Resources "On the state and protection of the environment of the Russian Federation."

The largest total number of cases (over 100) was observed in water bodies of the Sverdlovsk, Moscow, Nizhny Novgorod, Murmansk, Smolensk, Chelyabinsk, Novosibirsk and Tula regions, as well as in the Khabarovsk Territory and the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous District. As in previous years, the basins of the Volga (1043 cases), Ob (957) and Amur (202) rivers experienced the maximum pollution load, accounting for 71% of all cases of high and extremely high pollution.

As follows from the report of the Ministry of Natural Resources, last year the amount of pollution of surface fresh waters with mercury decreased by more than 3 times, organic substances (according to COD data) - by 32%, iron - by 20%, zinc - by 12%. At the same time, the number of cases of pollution with oil products increased 2.4 times, with nickel compounds - 1.5 times, easily oxidized organic substances (according to BOD5) - by 68%, with aluminum compounds - by 30%, copper - by 27%.

In January-September 2020, 2,236 cases of high and extremely high pollution of rivers were recorded, according to FinExpertiza data. The largest accident during this time happened at the Norilsk TPP-3, as a result of which over 20 thousand tons of oil products got into the soil, the Ambarnaya River, its tributary Daldykan and Lake Pyasino. Another resonant case of water poisoning is associated with Usolye-Sibirskoye: in the Bratsk reservoir on the Angara River, Roshydromet specialists registered extremely high pollution with mercury ions that entered the river along with wastewater after the destruction of the dam of the mothballed Usoliekhimprom plant.

You can't drink water!

One of the most difficult situations is in the Urals. Recently it became known that in the territory of the Ural Federal District none of the reservoirs has water of adequate quality. Over the past ten years, the largest number of cases of high and extremely high pollution of surface fresh waters has been recorded in the Sverdlovsk region.

During the current year, cases of extreme pollution of 15 rivers, including Tagil, Salda, Aiva, Iset, Pyshma, were also identified in the Sverdlovsk region. Also in October, it was reported about the pollution of the Vyya River, where the norm was exceeded 20 times for oil products and eight times for suspended solids. It turned out that there are two illegal tapping in the sewer, due to which a brown liquid poured into the river. The same mass fell into the Tagil River. An admixture of sand was noticed in the plums. Residents of Nizhny Tagil believe that pollution can come from the nearest quarry.

At the same time, according to experts, the Tamsher River is the most polluted with toxic impurities in the Sverdlovsk region. The content of copper in it is 60 thousand times exceeded, zinc - six thousand times, and manganese - three thousand times.

The rivers Ivdel and Shegultan are generally considered "dead": this summer the water in them was of a strange color, and the fish were dying. And this despite the fact that in the fall of 2018 an environmental scandal broke out around them. Then there were exceeding the MPC for copper, manganese and zinc by hundreds of times. Having learned about such results, the Human Rights Council turned to the head of the Ministry of Natural Resources, Dmitry Kobylkin, and Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika at that time . Human rights activists believed that the pollution was associated with the development of copper ore deposits by the Svyatogor enterprise (part of UMMC-Holding). In the UMMC, they said that the pollution was due to record rainfall, which "entered into reactions with certain rocks."

“Every year the state of the rivers in the Sverdlovsk region is getting worse. With regard to the deterioration of the environmental situation, the process does not stop, even despite the implementation of the Clean Water project. To date, this federal program is ineffective, "local environmental activist Ramil Khakimov told Novy Izvestia.

He also noted that you cannot drink water from the sources of the Sverdlovsk region. Khakimov believes that the main cause of river pollution is anthropogenic impact. First of all, industrial enterprises do harm, to a greater extent - water utilities. “ The worse the initial state of the water in a drinking pond, the more water treatment is needed, the more chemicals are used. Accordingly, the fact that water utilities have worked out as a result of their economic activities, all this is back in the water bodies, given that either there are no treatment facilities, or they are outdated”, - says the eco-activist.

What to do?

Khakimov believes that to solve the problem of river pollution, political will is needed - to move from words to deeds. In particular, in his opinion, greater control and larger fines are needed. “This is ridiculous, we are fighting with the Nizhniy Tagil water utility, and they are charged with penny fines. It is necessary at least to start seriously penalizing pollution. And, unfortunately, Moscow has all the main powers to check legislation. And Moscow is far away, one cannot see from it. It is necessary that the supervisory and control authorities are as close as possible. This will lead to operational control”, - the source explained.

Danilov-Danilyan believes that in Russia it is necessary to improve the system for monitoring river pollution and monitoring the impact on water resources. “ We have a very poor pollution monitoring system. Nowadays, much less monitoring of the ecological state of water bodies is being done than even at the end of the 90s. An example is the Amur River, which is the border between Russia and China. China pollutes it a lot. There are only two stations that are engaged in the normal analysis of water quality on the Amur. And the length of the Amur is 4440 km. By European standards, there should have been 100 such stations. We cannot even bring any claims against China, because there is no data for reliable registration of pollution”, - the expert noted.

In addition, the hydrochemical stations mentioned above operate at river sections, measure quality indicators regardless of pollution sources, and they are located along the entire course. In principle, the pollution that goes through the pipes is easy to control, says Danilov-Danilyan. For this, he said, chemical sensors must be installed on the pipes, which will determine what is flowing from the pipe and in what quantity. But there are very few such sensors in Russia...

“Naturally, dirty water is a source of disease. According to the WHO, more than 30% of the total morbidity in the world is from polluted water. And Russia is not in the best position. Because our rivers are, in terms of ecological state, the same as in developing countries.

"You won't find such mud in the rivers of Europe and North America. It was there. For example, the Rhine was called the cesspool of Europe. But 30 years have passed since the river was brought into an acceptable state. And all this time, work on the ecology of the river continues. four countries - Germany, the Netherlands, Austria and Switzerland”, - concluded the scientific director of the Institute of Water Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences.

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