A year in Dnepropetrovsk

An American volunteer in Ukraine

Water, water everywhere, Nor any drop to drink

For two days each year, at different times for each bank of the river, the city turns off all the water to clean the system. That means that Tuesday and Wednesday (that’s right, Rosh Hashana) my side of the river had no running water.

Here it is necessary to give a little background information. The city’s water is not potable under any circumstances. You can’t even boil it, because apparently the toxins in it will only get worse with heat. I don’t know the chemistry behind it, and although no one here can explain why, it’s a definite fact that there is nothing to be done with the river water. Instead, everyone in the city has one of those large water jugs, either like mine shown here, or with the two tabs to dispense hot and cold water.

When I first flew into Dnepropetrovsk a month ago, I remember looking down as we crossed the Dnepr River and noticing what a neon green color it appeared. Actually, it looked like a normal green/blue river that a giant had dumped neon green paint into and then swirled into a marble design. The paint over time had gathered along each bank, creating an electric lime border. I was told later that this is not because of any toxins, but because of some algae or some such plant that grows in the river, collecting at each bank. Sure enough, you can see that there’s plant growth there when you walk along the river.

The other day, when Danya and I were pregaming the Dnepr football match, we were drinking by the river (a very common practice in this city), and we were commenting on the sheer amount of garbage in and around the Dnepr. There was a tire in the river, as well as the myriad bottles and cans floating near the shore.

You get the idea. The water is all kinds of dirty. I had an opportunity to see just how dirty it was on Monday. In order to prepare for the next two days without any running water, I filled up my bathtub (to use for washing my hands, cleaning the toilet, and doing dishes). When I came back in the bathroom to turn the tap off, I was shocked to see how yellow it all was! It looked more like urine than like water, to be perfectly honest.

Oh, well. It could be worse. I could be drinking it.


  Alex P. wrote @

I presume you subscribe to a water service to replenish the jugs or is that a silly question? 😉

How do you replenish the H2O?

  chanteuse428 wrote @

That’s not a silly question at all. Fortunately for me, JDC (my employing company) replenishes my jugs. I show up to the office, tell Vadik that I need more water, and then he sends one of the company drivers to my apartment (they have a spare key) to replenish the water while I’m at the office. I’m so spoiled, I wouldn’t even know how to do it myself if they weren’t around. I haven’t seen the big jugs in the supermarkets, and they’re way to heavy to carry the 10 minute walk back to my apartment, anyway.

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