The subject: ‘The water we drink and air we breathe: tap water in Kiev has almost every chemical found in the periodic table’.
Participants: Tatyana Tymochko, Head of All-Ukrainian Environmental, Alexander Sergiyenko, Director of ‘Urban Institute’ think tank, Alexey Lyashenko, Deputy Director of ‘Research and Branding Group’ social research company.
Water pollution is topping the list of environmental problems Ukraine is facing, because a lot of industrial facilities here are dumping their waste into the Dnepr, Desna and other Ukrainian rivers.
It takes a lot of water for hydropower plants to run, which causes rivers and lakes to become shallow and stale. This in turn creates a breeding ground for all kinds of dangerous bacteria which then get taken downstream by water flow. A third of Ukraine’s population uses this bacteria-infested water for their drinking needs.
Riverfront property and floating restaurants are a second major reason why waste waters make their way into the Dnepr.
Tatyana Tymochko called on drawing on Odessa’s experience, where Saakashvili, the newly appointed governor, has been providing unrestricted access to local beaches and banning any development along the coast. That is the reason why Vodokanal, a Kiev-based public utility provider, practices adding lots of chlorine into the water to achieve some kind of disinfection.
A total of 37 thousand Ukrainians have no access to drinking water, which is why swimming is prohibited in the Dnepr.
Dangerous bacteria ending up in the river quickly multiply in the warm water. The water in the Dnepr near Kiev is also full of phosphates, chemical substances, nitrates and biogenic pollutants.
Tatyana Timochko also stressed the importance of the so-called ‘pool principle’ whereby society jointly resolves problems it faces in the upstream and downstream portions of the Dnepr. Concerted efforts are required here to prevent dangerous substances from getting into the river.
Industrial facilities should also be granted restricted access to the river. Businesses operating in densely-populated cities should not be allowed to make their own rules. The more people live in a city, the higher the risks of oncology diseases and TB spreading are.
Part of the problem is the Soviet era legacy because Bortnichy sewage disposal facility was found inoperable back then. The facility’s equipment, badly outdated, needs urgent repairs. If it ceases to operate, an environmental disaster may occur, which will cause waste waters to get into the Dnepr.
Recently, Vladimir Klitchko, Mayor of Kiev, has authorized allocation of UAH 40 million for Kiev sewer repairs, while the Ukrainian government has received a $1 billion loan from Japan to have a sewage disposal facility in Bortnichy repaired.
As regards the air we breathe, 30% of exhaust fumes get discharged by old vehicles. One should also be mindful of inferior quality petrol sold by Ukrainian gas stations.
Ukrainian industrial facilities keep emitting dangerous substances due to not being fitted out with filter systems. In Western countries, management of industrial facilities is concerned about environmental safety because they face steep fines for environmental pollution. It is a different story in Ukraine where facilities’ management prefer paying a fine to buying expensive filter systems.