Russia – The Soviet-Era Legacy of Water Infrastructure

Russia – The Soviet-Era Legacy of Water Infrastructure

RussiaLake Baikal is the largest reservoir of fresh water in Russia. It is accounting for 20% of the world’s fresh water. The country has the volume for high-quality drinking water supply. Unfortunately, millions in the region lack access to the basic drinking water services.

With such abundant resources of 2 million lakes and 210,000 rivers access to clean water remains an issue across the country.  Adding the Soviet-era legacy of pollution, chemicals and wastewater illegal disposal that remains through this days, the water contamination is a fact of life.

Moscow and the largest cities are now faced with the concerns of water contamination. Moscow home of over 12 million people have not meet the safety standard, over 56% of the water supply sources have been contaminated from both surface and groundwater pollution.

One of the main source of pollution comes from the Moskva River which supplies the agricultural region. The Moskva flows into the Volga River. With the ever-expanding urbanization a portion of the Moskva River the water demand will increase. Using the underground reserves that is contaminated is not the best solution.

The heavy legacy from the Soviet-era is weighing on the water infrastructure, 35 to 60 percent of drinking water reserves in Russia fail to meet safety standard per official regulatory data. 40 percent of surface water and 17 percent of spring water is not suitable for drinking. Over 11 million people do not have access to safe drinking water, 50 million people are drinking water with a high level of iron. Chemicals and sewage were deposited into Russian’s rivers, in some places radioactive wastewater were released into the rivers.

The practice is still happening today. Only a few companies are taking steps to improve the quality of their wastewater. There are currently no regulations to enforce companies to stop their toxic pollution.

The current status of the water infrastructure is lacking, at least 30 percent of the water pipes needs to be replaced in the near future, only 1.5 percent are replaced each year.

The water infrastructure is in dire need to be updated but also expansion needs to be accounted to reach everyone. There is an estimated 57 million people who do not have piped water at home, 21 million people still lack access to basic drinking water services. Such disparities are felt in the Caucasus and Central Asia region less than 40 percent of rural residents use piped water on sites.

The Clean Water Project (Chistaya Voda) that was launched in 2006 remains a battle ground for supporters and opponent. It was estimated to be completed by 2025 with an initial budget of 15 trillion rubles ($576 billion). But the project wasn’t included in the 37 state programs in 2011-2013.

Like every countries around the world the water infrastructure requires spending but also maintenance, the lack of returns is what makes some individuals fail to see the needs to push water infrastructure development for people to have access to safe water.

It is imperative for people to understand how critical safe water is for everyone. It can only provide the essence of life but also prevent illness.


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