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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Contaminated Water Affects 1 in 3, Says Ecology Report

One in three people across the country each year suffer ill effects as a result of contaminated drinking water, according to an Environment Ministry report released Friday. In their first nationwide survey of Russia's drinking water, experts from the Environment Ministry found that one in three Russians suffer annually from intestinal disorders caused by infected or polluted drinking water, due to widespread water pollution, outdated purification facilities and dirty pipes. Half the population drinks substandard water, the report said, listing the regions of Moscow, Kurgan and Kalmykia as among the worst. "This does not mean that half the population is drinking poisonous water," said Yevgeny Dmitriyev, director of the State Institute of Applied Ecology that co-authored the preliminary report. While 4.3 percent of all water samples contained dangerous levels of bacteria, more than 20 times the acceptable level, most samples failed the test because they contained high levels of minerals and iron, which were relatively harmless substances, Dmitriyev said. Only 3.5 percent of all samples failed to pass the test because of high percentages of chemicals. Larisa Kuznetsova, co-author of the report at the institute, added that Soviet-era quality standards for water were higher than in most countries, because the country was unusually well endowed with fresh water reserves and could afford to use drinking water for both industrial and domestic use. But after decades of carelessness in industry and agriculture, about 70 percent of all rivers and lakes in Russia are unfit to be sources of drinking water, Dmitriyev said. About 30 percent of groundwater is heavily polluted as well. Over 80 percent of the water distribution system is not up to hygienic standards and 40 percent of the equipment is worn out, the report estimated.