People of over 1,400 houses in the Frunzensky district and 860 in the Moskovsky district of Minsk have been affected by the water situation recently.
On the morning of 24 June, residents of these districts started to complain about the unpleasant smell of tap water. Some said it smells of iodine, ammonia or chlorine. People could not drink tap water, use it for cooking, wash or brush their teeth. They later complained about a burning sensation, itching, rash. The problem affected not only residential buildings, but also kindergartens and hospitals.
Four (and later 21 more) tanks with drinking water were sent to the affected areas. Hundreds lined up to get water (as well as for street drinking fountains). The demand for drinking water in the Frunzensky and Moskovsky districts grew 15 times, in others up to 6-8 times.
People could not reach Minskvodokanal to order the delivery of extra water in tanks. Some organized themselves in mutual support groups. Minskers living in districts with clean water invited fellow citizens to get as much water as they needed, others deliver water to kindergartens, hospitals, clinics and orphanages.
Minskvodokanal explained the smell by hot weather and “a change in the temperature of the source water coming to the filtration plant”. A working group has been set up to investigate what happened, draw appropriate conclusions and prevent a recurrence of the situation.
The agency took water samples and reported that almost all indicators of water quality corresponds to the norm, except for the odor indicator. The washing of water pipes was organized. At the same time, officials noted that there were no accidents that could obviously cause problems.
“We have not registered any accidents that could obviously cause this situation,” said Oleg Avrutin, director of Minskvodokanal.
Alexander Dorokhovich also addressed the residents of the affected districts: “It is necessary to drain water in the water networks, faucets. The faster we do this, the faster we will get quality water. People should not worry, they won’t have to pay for this water, we will recalculate.”
He also confirmed that in districts adjacent to the affected districts, isolated cases of poor quality water were registered. The Prosecutor General of Belarus is currently checking complaints about poor water quality.
“Yesterday, we determined that the water does not match the smell and a number of other physical and chemical indicators,” said the Deputy Healthcare Minister of Belarus, the Chief Public Health Officer Natalya Zhukova.
“We immediately took a decision to ban the use of water for drinking purposes. Today we can say that organoleptic indices are normalized, physico-chemical are normalizing. There is first evidence that according to microorganic indicators, water meets the requirements. We did not find pathogens there, research is ongoing.”
Natalya Zhukova recommends to refrain from consuming tap water for now.
There were reports about Minsk residents sought treatment. According to Alexander Zhinko, the chief physician of the City Emergency Medical Station, these people were diagnosed with exacerbation of chronic gastritis, acute gastritis, acute enterocolitis.
“We can assume that this is due to water consumption. But I can’t say for sure, these may be some food products, I don’t know,” he said.