You regularly pay for communal services, but one winter day, coming back from work, you find out that radiators in the house are cold. Or you want to wash your hands, but realize that there is no hot water, or any water at all. Familiar situation? I bet it is. In Kyiv, more than six thousand serious accidents happen annually in the water supply system, about seven thousand - in heating network and about a hundred - in the city sewage system.

Who is responsible?

The first and principal cause of wrecks and accidents is decay and worn-out state of tubes. Half of Kyiv heat and hot water supply networks have worked out their rated life, meaning the systems are more than 25 years old. When in use, the systems lose up to 60% of heat, meaning we pay for warming up the streets.    

Cold water supply systems are also in poor conditions. According to the public joint-stock company "Kyivvodokanal" (Kyiv water supplies) 38% of water pipes are worn-out and require replacement. Moreover, 56% of sewage pipes of the capital are old as well. Some of sewage collectors, for example, have been working since the times of imperator Nikolai II. Even those, built in 1950-80ies, are in critical conditions. Back then, the collectors were made of steel concrete without protective cover, and within the time wastewater corroded their walls.

Due to lack of funds, water pipes do not get replaced, but only patched, "Kyivvodokanal" told ForUm. This worker, for example, is welding a rusty and leaky tube.

Rust is the curse of water supply systems. In 64% of cases, accidents happen for this reason.

Clearing of a cause of accident may take several hours or several days, depending on the problem.
ForUm journalists took a closer look at the reparation process in a yard of Shevchenkovski district of Kyiv.  Pipemen in orange uniform first need to bale water out...

...and then can start fixing the system.

Workers complain that residents of the nearby buildings often come to them with claims and sometimes threats, but nobody takes into consideration that the wreck crew has to work under any weather conditions - rain, snow, heat.

However, "Kyivvodokanal" complains not only about old tubes, but also about residents, who flush down the toilet bad food, clothes, plastic bottles, construction materials and even bed sheets. Every day emergency teams have to clean about 40 clogs. Within the last two years maintenance crews had to unclog sewage tubes for more than 30 thousand times. 

There are also cases when owners of private residences decide to sewer without authorization and often ignore water pipelines layout. Proximity of pipes can cause double accident, when clean water get mixed with wastewater..

No money - no water

In 2012, "Kyivenergo" specialists replaced more than 80 kilometers of the heat and hot water supply systems. But, according to the estimations, it is needed to replace twice more tubes annually to avoid frequent accidents and heating cutoff. As ForUm learned from the press office of "Kyivenergo", in 2011 ECHI company (Energieconsulting Heidelberg International, Germany) conducted technical audit of all heating networks in Kyiv. According to the conclusions, 60% of pipelines must be replaced. Approximate costs of repair works make 10.1 billion hryvnias.

In turn, "Kyivvodokanal" replaced 10.7 kilometers of water pipes in 2010, 11.2 kilometers in 2011 and more than 9 kilometers in 2012. At the same time, the company has on the books the total of four thousand kilometers of water pipes, requiring repair, and three thousand kilometers of sewage pipes in worn-out conditions. The repair works cost about 15 billion hryvnias.

So, where does the money come from? In response to the ForUm's official inquiry, the Kyiv city state administration reported that the city budget allocated 22.7 million hryvnias for construction and erection work in 2012. In 2013, the expenses may increase, but it will depend on Kyiv council deputies, who still have to adjust the city budget for this year.
The administration also informed that the responsibility for reconstruction and repair of water and heat supply networks lies with "Kyivvodokanal" and "Kyivenergo", as stipulated by contracts signed by both companies.

At the same time, press offices of the above-mentioned companies point out that the tubes are of city property, thus must be repaired at the expense of the city budget. "For the past several years the modernization of the heat supply systems has been made at our own costs. Moreover, the company develops and pays for modernization projects from its fund. However, large-scale and complex modernization of the whole system is impossible without participation of the system owner, meaning the city," press office of "Kyivenergo" specifies.

In turn, "Kyivvodokanal" points out that tariffs for water supply and drain (currently UAH 3.18 per cu m) do not include expenses for major construction works and repair. Moreover, the debt of residents to the company makes 780 million hryvnias.

Following the Kyiv authorities and the enterprises, it turns out that neither officials nor holders of the books are responsible for reconstruction of falling apart tubes and for construction of new objects. Nevertheless, both parties occasionally allocate money for emergency repair or partial replacement of tubes. However, this money is enough only for the capital not to dry up or freeze to death.

While the communal services supply companies and the city administration are disputing, Kyiv residents observe the same sad pictures in their yards. 

Alina Yeremeyeva, photos by Maxim Trebukhov


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