The problem of Ukraine’s drinking water is a very pressing one, and for years scientists have sought to improve its quality. Researchers at the Anton Dumansky Institute of Colloid and Water Chemistry at Ukraine’s National Academy of Sciences have now developed a unique system-the world’s first local fine-purification water installation.
The plan is to implement it in Ukraine within the framework of the program “Drinking Water for 2006-2010,” which is the responsibility of the Ministry of Housing and Communal Services. The ministry has given the installation excellent marks and the only problem is insufficient funding: in the 2009 budget a mere 10 percent of the required amount has been earmarked. Minister Oleksii Kucherenko says that not a penny of budget funds has been provided for the program in 2008, and this has prevented his ministry from implementing its water improvement projects in eastern and southern Ukraine.
“These local water purification installations are several years ahead of the world’s cutting-edge technology,” said Volodymyr Honcharuk, the director of the Institute of Colloid and Water Chemistry. “The system purifies water from urban water supply systems at minimum cost and with maximum results. The water we get from these systems has high concentrations of chlorine, aluminum, manganese, and other substances that are not found in natural water. Our technology rids water of these extra elements.”
Honcharuk explained that the installation is also designed to carry out fine purification of water from underground sources and industrial water. “A new method for testing water was used in its production-biotesting on the cellular level, which involves biological, physical, and chemical experiments with the genomes of plant or animal cells that have no immunity. These kinds of cells give an instant indication of water quality because they best react to all water-borne substances, whether harmful or beneficial.”
While working on this new technology, the Ukrainian scientists conducted a number of experiments and found that the water that Ukraine’s population consumes from the water supply system contains fungi, which cause infections. (The World Health Organization says that 80 percent of all diseases in the world are linked to the quality of drinking water.) Until recently, the world’s leading scientists argued about the best ways to fight these organisms. Ukrainian researchers have now found a way to disinfect water by removing fungi with the help of local installations.
The inventors have patented their device and are now waiting for the government to fund pilot projects. They are convinced that apart from this new technology, Ukraine needs to implement stricter requirements for drinking water quality and new national standards. According to Honcharuk, 85 percent of the potable water in Ukraine fails to comply with national standards, which fall short of world standards.
Therefore, the current standard needs to be modified, and several new ones have to be created. One standard, “High-Quality Drinking Water,” will prescribe water testing by biological methods, primarily biotesting, which were developed by the researchers at the Institute of Colloid and Water Chemistry. We also need a standard for bottled water, which would impose strict restrictions on the shelf life of water (several days, not months), packaging quality, transport conditions, etc.
According to the Minister of Housing and Communal Services, in order to provide every Ukrainian with quality drinking water, millions of hryvnias must be invested in wastewater control systems and upgrading the water supply. In addition, water meters have to be installed in all buildings. The government transfers funds for this purpose on time, but local authorities are apt to create delays.
Ukrainians also need to be educated to use water sparingly because we use about 320 liters of water per capita a day, which is twice the world average.