Water Resources Engineering (WRE) connects to economic, environmental, and societal issues. Our student Allison Harding makes this connection in Moscow, Russia. This current event was reported in Russia Beyond the Headlines online news, on September 5, 2014, under the title “Russia’s Battle with Water Pollution Continues”, by reporter Sophie Terekhova. An independent report written on February 9, 2009, under RT news also documented this event, increasing its reliability, and can be found at here.

Sources of safe drinking water are becoming few and far between as thousands of companies continue to unleash hazardous chemicals into our lakes and rivers each year, and the lack of sufficient purification technologies has only exacerbated the issue further, especially in the case of Russia.  In Russia, it has been found that a third of drinking water sources fail to meet acceptable standards due to chemical contamination.  Water quality is an important issue to address in WRE for the goal of this discipline is to efficiently supply water for human use.  It is estimated that humans use around 80-100 gallons of water a day; so when you take that into account for a whole population the size of Russia, then that’s a lot of potable water that needs to be adequately treated and distributed across a widespread area (Perlman, 2017).  According to a journal article by the Water Problems Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences, only “8% of the renewable water in Russia is in areas with 80% of the population” (Barenboim et al., 2013). So to deal with this high demand for potable water, especially in densely populated areas, the proper infrastructure and technology need to be installed; however this is still not the case completely yet in these highly urbanized areas like Moscow.  So this article was about the innovative new solutions for water purification being put in place around Russia’s urbanized areas to help water treatment plants better meet the water demand of Russia’s industries, residents, etc.  The article had a lot of qualitative detail about the water purification technologies, however it could have contained more quantitative information as well about the technologies’ potential impacts on the efficiency and design capacity of the water treatment plants.

This current development in water purification technology in Russia may have several socioeconomic and environmental impacts on the country as a whole.  The latest water purification system that the Novosibirsk Institute of Mining and a team of former equipment suppliers to Gazprom, Russia’s largest energy company, have been working on is called Aquifer (see Figure 1). This new technology is an ejector-dispersant that saturates the water intensively with oxygen, thereby oxidizing many impurities (such as iron) without the use of any catalyst loading.  Catalyst loading is a method usually employed by many water treatment plants, however it can be rather expensive and it requires constant replenishment, so this makes Aquifer a more economically viable option.  Also due to the fact that this system doesn’t have any mechanical moving parts, this technology is a big saver on energy costs – another economic advantage to treatment plants.  So the cost to install Aquifer at these plants may run a high initial cost, however in the long run, not only would Aquifer help treatment plants meet water demand more sufficiently but also more cost-effectively.  In terms of impacts on the environment and society, Aquifer is a much safer and effective method to disinfecting water than classic methods such as chlorination and ozonation.  These other methods are often utilized by water treatment plants however they are potentially more dangerous due to the chemicals involved; for example, chlorine especially is a chemical that is very difficult to store, transport, and use safely. If there is an accidental spill of chlorine, then there will be detrimental impacts on the surrounding environment and residents.  Also Aquifer has been shown to be more effective at purifying water sources so this will have a beneficial impact on the safety and health of the Russian society.  This need to address Russia’s long-standing water pollution issue was also documented in an article by the Water Problems Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences in 2013, which found that water insecurity in the most populated regions of Russia is primarily contributed to inadequate water quality and that better sanitation of the drinking water supply is needed in order to not further compromise the health, safety, and productivity of the society (Barenboim et al., 2013).

Figure 1. Aquifer water purification system developed by Novosibirsk Institute of Mining. (Source: 1st Petr, 2016)

Figure 1. Aquifer water purification system developed by Novosibirsk Institute of Mining. (Source: 1st Petr, 2016)

REFERENCES:

1st Petr Mikheev6.49 · Bauman Moscow State Technical University, Kobzev 2nd A, Zhukov 3rd I. Water purification without chlorine and UV (PDF Download Available). ResearchGate. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/309728050_Water_purification_without_chlorine_and_UV. Published September 30, 2016. Accessed February 17, 2017.

Barenboim G.M., Danilov-Danilyan V.I., Gelfan A.N., Motovilov Y.G. On the problems of water quality in Russia and some approaches to their solution. Water Problems Institute of Russian Academy of Sciences Journal. July 2013.

Perlman USGSH. Water Questions & AnswersHow much water does the average person use at home per day? Per capita water use. Water questions and answers; USGS Water Science School. https://water.usgs.gov/edu/qa-home-percapita.html. Accessed February 17, 2017.

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