We started the inspection from one of the cleanest, according to the Kyiv residents, beaches - Verbne Lake (Obolon district). In fact, there is no officially organized beach there, but people come to swim anyway.
Residents of the nearby houses come to the beach early in morning. At 8 a.m. some were already swimming, others were taking sun and discussing the swimming ban by the sanitary service. Though the majority of the beachgoers knew about the ban, it did not stop them from plunging. People are tired of the heat more than of "scary stories" about infections in the water.
- When I swim I don't drink the water. Then I come home and take a shower to wash off everything. I also wash my hands several times. Don't be afraid and nothing will happen.
- Oh, please. They close beaches every year. For seven years I've been swimming here and never heard that someone had health problems. That's why nobody is afraid. Parents even bring their children here.
- Why should we be afraid? Ban? What ban? If they had closed the entrance, then we would have known it is prohibited. True, the water is covered with weed in some places, but we swim anyway. Besides, where else can we go? With these bans they just want to take beaches from us. If the water is dirty, they must clean it, not ban. Not everyone can afford to go on vacation out of the city. They can go to Nice or the Maldives, but we have only this. That's why we intend to fight for our place.
Andriy, 34, with one-year-old son Aleksiy:
- We have not heard about any bans.
- The water is clean here at first sight. This is a lake and its waters do not communicate with Dnipro. Besides, what else can we do? Bans are on the paper, but in real life we have 40 degrees heat. Who can stand such heat? People have been swimming here and will keep swimming anyway.
After the lakes, ForUm went to Dnipro beaches to see if people have courage to swim there. Even before the official ban, the Dnipro waters were not of the best quality and cleanness.
Having arrived to Trukhanov Island we immediately noticed the strong odor of sulphurated hydrogen. The water was muddy, covered with weeds and not welcoming at all. Even those who were swimming did not look happy. According to the beachgoers, the heat simply forces them into the water. For some residents everyday swim is a tradition. People believe swimming is good for health. Strange enough, they do not believe that Dnipro waters are dangerous.
- I don't trust the State sanitary service. People have been swimming here for ages, and this ban will hardly stop anyone. They always say: danger, danger. But as you can see we are still here and in good health. I don't even know who they issue this ban for.
- The water leaves much to be desired. But with such heat no much choice. Besides, even before the ban the water was the same. It's better not to wet the head when swimming and keep the mouth closed so the water does not come inside. We've been swimming here for years and are still ok.
- I do not swim. I can wash arms and legs, when it is too hot, but I don't plunge in the river. You never know. Not going to the beach in summer is also not the way out.
- I swim everyday for 30-40 minutes. Yes, the water is green and covered with weed, but Trukhanov Island is cleaner than Hydropark, for example. However, the beach itself is dirty. They promised to clean it after the Swedes, but there is still a bunch of broken glass, bottles, plastic bags.
Masha, 43, with daughter Anna, 14:
- We do not swim in Kyiv waters, we only take sun on the beaches. We swim in the sea, a pool or an aquapark.
As sanitary service officials explain, the beaches are not closed completely, people can get solar procedures, breathe the air, but not swimming. According to the deputy head doctor of the Kyiv service Yuli Zhyhalov, due to a non-traditional hot weather the quality standards for surface waters have deteriorated a lot. "We have undertaken more than 500 studies. And basically the water does not meet sanitary-chemical and microbiological parameters indicating its contamination. The public health doctors have issued 11 decisions on swimming ban," he said.
According to the latest research findings, the deputy head doctor of the Kyiv City SES said that lactose-positive Bacillus coli has exceeded in water, which is an indicator of overall pollution.
"The restoration of swimming season officially depends on natural factors. In 2010 there was a great heat during two months, and water was restored in early October. Therefore, the restoration of the swimming season was irrelevant. We do not know how it will happen this season. But while we have such indicators, then, of course, we will not allow and recommend swimming," Zhyhalov said.
However, as ForUm learned, Kyiv residents do not care much about the ban and are not going to wait for the official permission. Some people do not trust the sanitary service, some think the officials want to take away the beaches. Anyway, from 7 a.m. the families with children swim in the potentially dangerous waters and hope nothing bad will happen. Doctors recommend taking shower after the swimming but, unfortunately, it is impossible to do on Kyiv beaches.
The only comfort in this situation is that the weather forecast center promises temperature drop from August 8.
Tetyana Hryhorieva photos by Maxim Trebukhov
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