Today concluding my review of this piece. Yesterday we saw how the residents of Donetsk share the news with each other, when a water truck is due in their neighborhood. On certain days they can get “technical water” to use for washing and bathing. On even better days, they can fill up their containers with drinkable water. We meet a nice lady named Liubov Alexandrovna, whose 5-liter container (баклажка – pronounced baklazhka) is starting to look somewhat ratty after 4 months of continuous use.
“This is good water today,” she reassures one of her fellow water-seekers. “Very good. I just drank some, right out of the tap. For me, this has been going on for 4 months.”
“This is my second month doing this. Water doesn’t come out of our pipes any more.”
“Mine stopped 3 months ago,” another person remarks, as they exchange experiences.
Since July, the Donetsk authorities have assured residents of drinking water in some fashion or another: Either from the cisterns/water trucks, or by delivering bottled water to them. A free ration of 5 liters per person per day is guaranteed. For the very elderly and people registered as invalids, this ration of water is brought to their homes. Everybody else has to go out and fetch it for themselves.
It goes without saying that people can also go into the supermarket and purchase bottled water for their own money, if they wish to. Stepan Nikolaevich just finished buying enough water from the kiosk to fill 3 baklazhkas. “That’s 60 rubles,” he reports. “It doesn’t sound like much, but this water has to suffice for myself, my daughter and my grandson, so it will only get us through one day. Maybe two.” Stepan’s pension pays him 7,000 rubles. His daughter used to earn a salary of 17,000 rubles, which allowed them to live fairly well, especially for Donbass people. “The problem is,” he adds, “that the store where my daughter used to work, has been closed since March. They continued to pay her half-wages for a few months, but then they stopped.”
Which brings up another problem that the Donetsk residents have to contend with: the closing of stores and businesses. Half of the stores in the city closed their doors and are now boarded up behind grates: the owners left the city, to get away from the shellings. The stores that remained open have shortened hours. And not just the stores: A sign on the main post office door informs that it closes at 3:00 PM “due to the operative situation.”
There is a gun ammo store on Ilyich Prospekt, right in the center of the city. Here you can meet everyone, from Chechens to militiamen. It’s supposed to stay open until 5:00 PM, but sometimes closes early when there are shellings. The (female) owner will sometimes close the shop at 4:00 PM, in order to save herself and her customers.
The Watering Stations
There are 9 regions (Russian rayon, obviously a French borrowing) of Donetsk City. In the “Leninsky” region there are 6 watering stations, all of them located within schools. Here is where people come for their daily 5-liter ration of bottled water. Five of the stations operate strictly by a registered list; the sixth one services anyone who comes. This is in regards to drinking water. The schools also contain huge blue-colored vats of “technical water”, which are refilled twice a day. It’s first come first serve type system.
“Here’s how it works for the bottled Russian [drinking] water,” Elena Valentinova explains to the reporter. Elena is a schoolteacher for the younger grades. “You show me your passport, and I verify that your name is on the list.” She sits at her post, along with 10 others of her colleagues. With 11 service people, the line is not so long (around 40-50 people) and moves quickly. This is just the first line of defense: After being verified, you proceed into the gym, where others of her colleagues give out the actual water.
“If you live in our region,” Elena continues, “then we will note down your personal data. Your passport number, name and surname, home address, and the amount of water you took.”
“The main thing for us,” adds Tatyana Khomutova, the Director of School #32, “is to confirm the address of the person, and that it corresponds with what we have on the list.”
“What if it’s a family member?”
“Then we need a passport and a birth certificate. You don’t need to bring the original, a xerox copy will do. But we need to know that the people receiving water are from our region…”
When this system first started, at the beginning of July, 5850 people showed up that first day at School #32, carrying their passports. Not everybody knew about it, but then the word soon spread, and more people started coming. Sometimes the lines would form from early morning as people waited until the opening at 10:00 AM. There was the old Soviet mentality, of “better get in line early,” because you never know if there will be enough. But people don’t really need to worry: the Russians will make sure there is enough water for everyone. Water is being brought in constantly. And the dutiful schoolteachers will continue to sit at their posts and hand it out, even though technically they are supposed to be on their summer vacation.
School Principal Tatyana explains that everyone was ready to pitch in, and nobody minded being recalled from their vacations: “When we closed up for the summer, I warned my teachers: Girls, you know that we have a problem with water. And the moment I gave the signal, they all came back to work, all those who still remained in the city.”
City Administrator Alexei Kulemzin: “We are going on our ninth year of war in Donetsk. We have been through all of this together, and we are like one big family.”
Where The Water Is
The State enterprise responsible for the water system in Donetsk is called “Water of the Donbass”. Kulemzin attempts to explain the complicated situation. It’s not like there is absolutely no water (“Otherwise, given this summer heat wave, we would be like the Sahara Desert”), it’s all about the volume and the pressure. “Along with Gorlovka and Makeevka, and other towns, we all sit on the same canal. But remember this: we need 230,000 cubic meters per day, and we only have 50,000.”
The lion’s share of of this 50,000 comes from the Verkhne-Kal’miusskoe Reservoir near Donetsk. (Upper Kalmius Reservoir, named after the Kalmius River.) This reservoir was created in Soviet times as a backup, for times when the pumps in the canal had to be taken down and repaired. It was only supposed to be operational for a week or two at most, as a spare. Another backup system is the Kalmius River itself, which runs through Donetsk. After undergoing a purification process it is suitable for watering plants and grass.
“And we also pull in gutter water from the mines,” Kulemzin confides with a certain aura of satisfaction in his tone. “That’s a long story, I could spend hours telling you how this mine water is processed to the point where we can use it to clean the streets and fill the hydrants.”
“You know, the fire hydrants. Haven’t you noticed how we have fires so routinely, it’s almost like they’re scheduled?” Kulemzin goes on to explain that the mine water helps them economize on technical water. “This is the ninth year already that we find ourselves on the front lines, and nothing has ever quieted down. The only thing that has changed, is that the weapons [used against us] are ever more deadly, and the density of the fires greater than they ever were.”
Thanks to the ambitions of the Clinton/Cheney/Obama/Biden Administration [singular intended] to create global neocolonial empire, these good people have been put through hell.
War, what is good for? In this case, every war the above mentioned war-merchants engaged in turned into disastrous failures, all depreciated American wealth, all created greater insecurity for the nation, all were criminal. And yet all the above mentioned parasites live fabulously wealthy lives and are held in great esteem by the moneyed class.
One good that will come from the shattering of frmr-Ukrainia, when prosperity returns, these frmr-Ukrainia peoples of the east and south regions who have known so much, hardship and shared sacrifice will better citizens and demand a responsible government; just as those American Citizens that went through the depression and WWII, as adults, were vastly superior to those who have taken their place, so too the people oppressed by the DC-backed-Kiev-regime.
After undergoing a purification process it is suitable for watering plants and grass.
I almost fell off my chair with that one! Purification process to water plants? What kind of water is that?
And what is that water from the mines that needs special purification processes to clean the streets?
Maybe what kind of metals are in the water, both from years of shelling and whatever might be in the mines. Also higher risk for stuff like legionella, kind of like what happened in Flint I think when they had lead in their water. People have started experimenting with human wastewater in agriculture but I don’t think untreated is great personally.
Human wastewater… ew.. well, maybe if we have to go and live on Mars!
“People have started experimenting with human wastewater in agriculture”
You are kidding; aren’t you? Waste from treatment plants or sewer lagoons has been used, with certain restrictions about time and amount, in Canada as well as in Germany, and likely many other places in Europe and elsewhere for many years. Check the Chinese literature for “night soil”.
It can be an excellent fertilizer if not used excessively, although nowadays with the drug loads in wastewater I would rather treat it as a biohazard.
Much more brutal is what happens around large pig operations, where the waste is treated and then spread on the fields, but often to an extent that the runoff contaminates water sources.
Quite apart from China, see this:
Cesspools, Sewage, and Social Murder – Environmental Crisis and Metabolic Rift in Nineteenth-Century London it’s not called “night soil” for nothing!
Interesting. I don’t think it’s a good idea for any form of human waste to be recycled in this way without treatment because of microplastics and whatever pathogens we are giving as presents to plants
Although lavender likes sewage
Lavender likes sewage? Sounds like a slogan for a greeting card:
Lavender’s blue, dilly dilly,
Lavender likes sewage, dilly dilly, hence the greasy sheen…
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I don’t know about lavender specifically, but sewage can be treated using plants (requires quite a lot of space, but highly effective). Specific plants are good for that purpose, generally those types of water-based plants that are oxygenating. Lavender though is generally found on dry land – but like most plants it certainly likes fertiliser!
There are also bacterial ways to treat sewage. I used to know a professor who had developed a bacterial treatment that could treat raw sewage straight out of the toilet and convert it to drinking water. As Nicola pointed out one wants to be careful about drugs and other nasty things these days, especially if one has no control over what goes in, but I think the bacteria can also neutralise the pharmaceuticals.
That’s a good point about “human waste” contaminated with drugs and medications. Just the amount of opioids people take nowadays… it would stagger the mind.
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Mine water is bad. It’s exposed to all sorts of chemistry. Usually mines have their own water treatment systems, but after treatment it’s still not ok to put to ground much less any human usage.
(46.4904671, -87.9023771) This is just from a mill. All the water is treated heavily but periodically it smells so much like natural gas that local residents call in a leak. You can touch it, but you wouldn’t want to do so for very long. Even after treatment it’s really acidic.
(46.4251043, -87.6496168) This one is just an iron mine and the mill only uses pretty inert chemicals. You can smell it from a good distance.
(46.7487413, -87.8827779) This one is just for treatment of fairly minor water quantities from underground mining. But the rock down there is sulfide so when you get it wet you make sulfuric acid.
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Nice report, Yalensis! It gave me a small feel for what life must be like in the recently warrish zone. It’s not all about battle plans and fighting equipment! Your description of the ubiquitous baklazhkas made me think of how many plastic fluid containers I chuck into the recycling bin. (Where they’re not recycled — that’s a myth pushed by the plastixxx industry.) We Westies have so much, and toss it so heedlessly. I wish I could save the bigger, sturdy ones (3L plus) for the days to come when we’re gonna need them for bulk fluids. I can see the day when we’ll be humping our jugs to the a central distribution point — hopefully something run by the .gov and not a greedy corpo — to fill up with the milk, fruit juice, cooking oil etc. that we’re entitled to per our ration cards. Shortages are coming. Wait for it…
I can see Australia doing something like that, at least. I have my thoughts on how that would play out on the ground in the U.S., but I’ll keep my fat yap shut. Better hope that TPTB make it easier for a human to prove their ID for food than they do with voting IDs…
Nice pic-grab of Donetsk in winter, too. Put me in mind of a town named Houghton in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Used to live north of there and pass through a lot. Medium-sized place, split by a waterway (an arm of Lake Superior), had those sorts of mid-rise buildings on both sides, very frosty in the winters (snow could be counted on from September through May.) The image made me flash back. Wonder what Donetsk looks like at this moment? After all those fires…
Thanks, Bukko! Now, when the shortages come, I personally don’t expect Americans to act any differently than Australians or anybody else.
Americans like to think they are individiualistic rebels, but when push comes to shove, they are just sheep, like everybody else. During covid you saw Americans lining up obediently and doing what they were told to do. All humans are the same. We are a herd animal, apparently; not much different (or smarter) than bisons!
Bisons are a lot more friendly to the planet, not a fair comparison. And bisons don’t worthlessly slaughter other species as humans do (cf US American slaughter of the bison).
Sorry, that should be bison not bisons.
I have a bison story. Forgive me if you already heard this one, it’s a true story:
When travelling as a tourist in Yellowstone National Park, our tour bus had to stop numerous times to allow bisons to cross the road.
At one point we were stuck for around 20 minutes watching a herd of bisons trying to get through a fence on the other side of the road. The fence was only a few meters long and then just stopped, the bisons could have easily walked around it by taking a little detour. Instead, they struggled to push themselves through a hole in the fence, one after the other, and some even injuring themselves. I was, like, “Yikes, those idiots are hurting themselves! Can’t somebody just go out there and show them how to walk around the fence?”
The bus driver replied that one cannot interfere with nature. But then he took offense when I said the bisons were really stupid. “They’re not stupid. They’re just a herd animal.”
Anyhow, since man already interefered with nature by building that fence that got in their way, I think it would have been okay to interfere again by showing those brutes how they didn’t really need to bust their way through it. Just my opinion.