Residents of the private sector in Gvardeyska street in Kyiv have a common misfortune - their houses are not connected to the centralized water drain system. Thus, in 21 century people live like a hundred years ago and have to use dump well. In fact, they used to use dump wells. Now they refuse to bear with this misfortune and illegally connect their sewage pipes to the storm water drain. Unfortunately, the storm water drain is not intended for excrement. Its task is to collect rain water and bring it unfiltered to Sovki ponds, which are connected to Dnipro's confluent - Lybid river.

Kyiv diggers were the first to discover unauthorized ties-in and sound the alarm about ecological security of Kyiv's basins. However, the question is who is responsible for the situation and what to do with offenders. Communal enterprise "Kyivavtodor" is responsible for the storm water drain, and not for filtering sewages. Cleaning sewages is the task of "Kyivvodokanal" (Kyiv water canal), but again this enterprise is responsible for centralized sewage system and has nothing to do with storm water drains. Thus, none of the enterprise has a right to fine offenders for unauthorized ties-in. The only thing they can do is to wall up illegal pipes and talk to people.

ForUm has assisted to one of such heart talks: "Kyivavtodor" and "Kyivvodokanal" has held a raid-inspection of Gvardeyska street.

Workers of " Kyivavtodor" open any old drain cover...

... and find an unauthorized tie-in. House discharges have lighter colour than rain water. 

Communal workers immediately prepare matrix and pointedly wall up the "toilet" pipe.

Diggers triumph, residents boil over. They have different truth.

Pensioner Volodymyr tells journalists that he was promised to be sanitated many years ago. In particular,  on the eve of mayor election in 2006, electioneerers of Leonid Chernovetski promised to connect the private house to the central line..."Ecology is good, but we also should not be ignored. Instead of walling up pipes, do something to sanitate us," he says.

Almost all residents of Gvardeyska street admit that they discharge fecal waste to the Sovski ponds. They say they do have much choice. In turn, financial director of "Kyivvodokanal" Stanislav Kapliyenko states that people have at least two ways to solve the problem: to use the same old dump wells or to connect tot he central sewage at their own expenses. "In this street we have 120 subscribers which use our water supply services, but only three of them are connected to the sewage system," he says. 

Pensioner Natalia Sokolova explains that she simply wants to live like a human being and not to think all the time about cleaning the dump well and how much water is allowed to use...Plumbing at my own expenses is very expenses. She says she was asked to pay 30 thousand hryvnias for the job.

In his turn, experienced digger Mykhailo Storozhuk says that comfort is good, but recovering natural ecosystems is more complicated job than to sanitate once only. He says there are about 50 unauthorized ties-in in the street. "We have walled up about ten, but after some time people open them again. They admit it," he says. 

Diggers and communal workers also say that blocking of unauthorized ties-in is possible only with the help of police or journalists when the process is recorded, otherwise they risk threats or even assaults. Indeed, when the cameras are off  the dialogue between residents and communal workers becomes more emotional...

Bad smell of the big city

Unfortunately, Gvardeyska street is not the only one in Kyiv to have such problem. According to the data of "Kyivvodokanal", it serves more than 21.5 thousand subscribers of private sector, but only 8.5 thousand of them are connected to the central sewage system.

To some extent it is understandable. Tubing is very costly, long and complicated process, which requires many papers to file and agree with various services, including power providers, signal operators, gas service, etc. Using dump well is also not the best option, as it collects all the water being used in a house - shower, washing machine, toilet... Depending on frequency of use and number of residents in one house the dump well must be cleaned once or twice a month. Service of special machines for cleaning dump wells is a costly affair - 300-700 hryvnias, almost impossible sum for a pensioner.  Thus, people seek other ways...

At the same time, it is almost impossible to prove residents guilty of unauthorized access to pipes, lawyer Tetyana Montyan tells ForUm in a comment. "A person can always say he is a simple pensioner or a teacher and does not know what you are talking about. You cannot prove he did it, because actually he did not do it. People hire specialists, who want to earn some money. Even if these ties-in are found and blocked, they can be unblocked with the same ease," she says. In lawyer's opinion, residents of private sectors must unite into cooperatives to be legally presented before officials and solve their housing problems.  

Anyway, it is indeed necessary to do something about this situation. Kyiv old-timers say they used to swim and fish in Sovski ponds... Now, the bad smell of the ponds can be felt in neighboring streets, including Krasnozvezdnyi avenue. In the article "Beach season in Kyiv: How long will summer last this year?" ForUm already spoke about ecological problems of Kyiv waters. Once again we want to remind that purity of water we drink and swim in depends on our own behavior.

Alina Yeremeyeva, photos by Maxim Trebukhov


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