The IPO "Ecoрartnership" came to this disappointing conclusion following a sociological study conducted in various parts of the Minsk region. The results were discussed at a roundtable that brought together representatives of district sanitation authorities and community services participating in the study, as well as representatives of NGOs and journalists.
The survey covered the rural settlements Vileika, Pukhovichi and Kletsckii districts of the Minsk region, where drinking water supply is predominantly from decentralized sources. Throughout October and November 2013 sociologists interviewed 1,000 respondents and using test strips tested the water in the wells for nitrate.
The survey respondents were asked to assess the condition of the source from which they take water for drinking and cooking. Most respondents were completely or mostly satisfied with the condition of their drinking water sources (91.5%). But even they noted such problems as: cloudy water in the well; slime on the walls; various impurities; limescale which appears after boiling wate; a source which is located below the groundwater table; water level sometimes drops sharply, little water in the well; source located on swampy ground.
According to Alina Bushmovich, the coordinator of the Campaign on Water and Health: “The quality of groundwater and surface water is influenced by many factors. Deterioration of water quality in the decentralized sources usually occurs because of lack of compliance with the rules for the construction and exploitation of wells.”
Ten percent of the individual well owners expressed an intention to improve the well in the near future, including such work as the replacement of the cover and casing, cleaning and disinfection, maintenance of the shaft and clay enclosure.
The results indicate that a significant proportion of individual wells are located in dangerous proximity to pollution sources. More often than not follow the rules well location in relation to the toilets and yard to the barn for cattle.
According to Alina Bushmovich, the water used by the population for drinking and cooking, should conform to the physiological needs of human senses (smell, taste, color) have the appropriate mineral composition, and be safe. Although the survey revealed few complaints about the quality of water in wells, water samples showed that in most wells, both individual and in common areas, there is a significant excess of the allowable level of nitrate content. The villagers mostly never tested the quality of the drinking water they consume: 81.3% of residents of urban settlements, 95.6% of residents in agricultural settlements and 90.4% of agricultural villagers in the Minsk region.
Results of the studies show an association between the presence of nearby sources of drinking water (up to 25 meters) containing pollution exceeding standards nitrate concentrations in drinking water, and an increase in the overall incidence of respiratory diseases and chronic diseases of the circulatory system. Thus, we can say with confidence that nitrates affect the incidence as one factor in complex environmental pollution. But in general the rural population does not associate the state of their health and their children's health with the quality of drinking water.
“The IPO "Ecoрartnership" helps raise awareness on water quality. This spring, the organization launched a campaign on water and health, one of the events was the opening of a public information center. There anyone can, free of charge, ask the experts questions about how to clean contaminated drinking water; development and maintenance of wells, etc. We distributed our literature to residents of surveyed towns to disseminate information about the importance of water quality, measures to prevent its contamination and about the Info Center” — Campaign Coordinator on Water and Health, Executive Director of IPO "Ecoрartnership" Alina Bushmovich.