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10Feb/110

To drink or not to drink water in Yekaterinburg?

This is the headline from Your Yekaterinburg, the first English newspaper that was published in February 2011. The question is vital as every foreigner who arrives at the city asks me about tap water. So, if you didn’t manage to read the newspaper, here is the answer for you:

Tap water in Yekaterinburg neither looks nor smells drinkable. We joke that you may find the whole periodic table in what comes out the tap. So, chemists may be happy! Specialists calm us down saying a good filter can solve the problem, but most citizens don’t trust filtered water either and look for other sources such as wells and natural springs outside the city. There are about 4 thousand organized open springs and wells in Sverdlovskaya Oblast. Some of them are close to Yekaterinburg, for example in Berezovskiy, Verkhnyaya Sysert or Koptyaki village next to Ganina Yama Monastery. That’s why every Sunday you may see cars loaded with huge water containers coming home from datchas. The most cautious citizens have developed ‘the further – the better’ attitude and only use wells which are at least 100 km far from the city. Many of the springs have not been tasted though. People trust their senses but in fact we don’t know whether this water is clean enough.

“Good water can’t be cheap” 80% of Yekaterinburg citizens think and buy bottled water. There are many companies ready to deliver plastic bottles of proved and certified pure water to your flat. An average family of four spends 1500 roubles a month on bottled water and uses it for drinking and cooking, still many prefer to boil it for little children thus showing certain mistrust.

As for me, I believe boiling water and using a decent filter is enough. Besides, filter is a good idea for those concerned about environment. The saddest thing is that local water stations use pretty good modernized processing systems to purify water. But 70% of water supply system in Yekaterinburg consists of 70 year old iron pipes. Those rusty pipes make tap water dangerous to drink.

In a nutshell, boil water before drinking. And don’t worry about taking a shower, after all it doesn’t smell as bad as one may smell without a shower!   


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