Nov 20 2022 7:27 p.m
Donetsk’s drinking water supply depends on the goodwill of Ukraine. Even before the start of the Russian special operation in February, Kyiv had it interrupted. To solve the humanitarian emergency, Russia is now planning to quickly build a 300-kilometer water pipeline between the Don River and Donetsk.
For almost nine months, the city of Donetsk has lived without a regular supply of drinking water, unnoticed by the world community. At the end of 2021, Ukraine stopped supplying drinking water via a filter station near Slavyansk, from which the capital of the Donbass had drawn most of its water for decades.
The fact that Donetsk even had a water supply between 2014 and 2021, although Ukraine had tried to make everyday life more difficult for the breakaway republic in every other area with blockades and sabotage, was only because Mariupol, which was then Ukrainian-controlled, had drinking water from the same pipe system – in transit via Donetsk. Shutting off Donetsk’s water would have exposed Mariupol to thirst, which Kyiv balked at. In 2022, such considerations will no longer matter, especially now that Mariupol is under Russian control.
From that point on, the supply of almost 1.5 million inhabitants of the agglomeration depended on a single filter station, which was directly controlled by the People’s Republic, which was not yet recognized at the time. On February 19, a pumping station was damaged and failed, and the first difficulties in the drinking water supply arose. On February 21, three days before the start of Russia’s military special operation, this last remaining possibility of obtaining drinking water was subjected to a targeted artillery attack by Ukraine and damaged.
Despite all the difficulties, the local filter station was later able to start emergency operations, but the vital supply from Slavjansk, which is still under Ukrainian control, has not been restored to this day. According to the Donetsk water company, the problem there lies in the filtration and pumping system in Gorlowka, which – unlike the town of the same name – is located in Ukrainian-occupied territory and was cut off by the Ukrainian administration. In addition, it is said in Donetsk, the supplying water channel is also physically interrupted at one point.
A water reservoir north of Donetsk (Upper Kalmius water reservoir) could be used for some time. Since its supply was limited, the supply of tap water in Donetsk and the surrounding areas was reduced to a few hours a day. Within a month to the end of March, the water reservoir had already been half emptied.
Since the end of March, residents of Donetsk have only had tap water for two hours every other day. Technical water is delivered in trucks and distributed to the population, but this is not drinkable.
After some other water sources were switched on, about which no one in the city administration wants to provide information for fear of acts of sabotage, the situation has improved somewhat since the summer months, but not everywhere. Some parts of the city suffer from almost total water shortages, in others tap water is almost always available. The rule, however, is that it runs sporadically and with such little pressure that an entire house sometimes has to rely on the neighbors on the first floors to replenish the water supply: the mains pressure is not sufficient for the top floors.
According to the authorities, a permanent solution will only be possible when the entire water canal from Slavyansk to Donetsk comes under the control of the autonomous republic’s authorities and the damaged areas are repaired. An alternative to this was now targeted with the construction of a new, large and efficient water pipeline from Russia. On Thursday, the head of the DPR Denis Pushilin met with the Russian Deputy Prime Minister Marat Chuznullin, who is responsible for construction and infrastructure. As Puschilin later reports, it was decided to build a water canal between the Don River on traditional Russian territory and Donetsk.
The project should be implemented in the first half of 2023. Original sound Puschilin:
“Particular attention was paid to the problem of water supply. It was decided to build an aqueduct from the Don. Although the project is complex and costly, it is scheduled for completion in the first half of 2023.”
Should it actually be possible to put the Don-Donetsk water pipeline into operation in the summer of next year, it would be a record-breaking pace of construction for a project of this magnitude. The shortest distance between the Don and the above-mentioned Upper Kalmius reservoir northeast of the Donetsk metropolitan area is a good 300 kilometers.
more on the subject – Thanks to NATO weapons, Donetsk is not a safe place for civilians – a report