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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Estonia Stops Pumping Water To Cash-Strapped Border City

TALLINN, Estonia -- Estonian authorities on Tuesday turned off the sole water supply to the Russian border city of Ivangorod because the authorities have not paid the water bill.

Officials in the Estonian city of Narva, where the region's main water utility is located, said that Ivangorod, a city of 12,000, had failed to pay water bills totaling more than $1 million.

Nonpayment of Ivangorod's water bill has been an ongoing problem that has been exacerbated by Russia's worsening economic crisis. The cash-strapped Russian town says it doesn't have the money to pay.

Estonia's government last year paid part of Ivangorod's water bill, but on Tuesday refused to say whether it was willing to pay the debt again.

Estonian government spokesman Daniel Vaarik said the problem involved national and municipal governments and also privately owned companies, which made finding a solution more difficult.

"This is a serious situation and very complicated to solve," he said. "But someone has to pay the bill or the Narva Water Company, which is partly private, will go bankrupt. That would be a huge problem for Narva and all of Estonia."

Narva and Ivangorod, 200 kilometers east of Tallinn, have had a common water system since before World War II, when Ivangorod was part of Estonia.

Estonia was annexed by the Soviet Union in 1940 and after the Soviet collapse in 1991, Ivangorod fell under the jurisdiction of Russia while Narva remained part of Estonia

Under Russia, Ivangorod's economy has fallen into near ruin, while Narva's economy has thrived.