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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Complaints Aside, Water Here

Moscow's drinking water is under scrutiny once again. In recent weeks, Muscovites and foreigners have criticized the strong taste and smell of chlorine in the water, but city officials maintain the water is safe.


"It's not correct to say there are dangerous, elevated amounts of chlorine in Moscow water", Viktor Volkov, first deputy general director of Mosvodokanal, said Wednesday.


Volkov said that Mosvodokanal, the city's water system, maintains a chlorine level of about 1 milligram per liter of water, which is within Russia's standard for chlorine of between 0. 8 and 1. 2 milligrams per liter of water.


The chlorine level fluctuates a little bit each day, "but it is never below or above the standard", Volkov said.


Though tests conducted for the U. S. and German embassies support the city's findings that the water is safe to drink, some Western health officials advise foreigners to drink boiled, filtered or bottled water.


"We found slightly elevated levels of chlorine in the water, but it was within acceptable limits", said an American health technician, who asked that his name be withheld. The U. S. Embassy's tests were conducted March 27.


"Moscow water is better than the water in several cities in the States", he added, noting that chlorine is an acceptable treatment process in many U. S. cities to combat spring flooding.


He noted that Moscow water samples also underwent more comprehensive testing in January at a U. S. lab and the water met U. S. standards for nitrates, lead, pesticides and other harmful chemicals.


A water quality test conducted about three weeks ago for the German Embassy also confirmed that the level of chemicals in the water was acceptable, according to Enno Barker, press attache at the German Embassy.


The embassy tests drinking water weekly for coliforms, the bacteria present in fecal contamination that is often a problem during spring flooding, he said. "But the coliform count can change daily", Barker said. The city's antiquated water-delivery system is also a factor, another Western diplomat said. About half of the city's pipes are cast iron and were installed 80 to 90 years ago. Numerous breaks in the system result in untreated water mixing with treated water, he said.


Valery Vasilyenko, deputy chairman of the Moscow City Council's Ecology Committee, a city government administrative committee, said the problems in the distribution system occur primarily in central Moscow.


Though Western and Russian health officials say there here have been few reports of waterborne illnesses, Dr. Hugh Carpenter, the physician at the British Embassy, said he has treated several patients suffering from diarrhea recently.


"There is a problem", he said. "Especially for those who are sensitive to the purification chemicals in the water".