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City news, 20.03.2010 17:01

Forum Focuses on City Ecology

Forum Focuses on City Ecology The quality of St. Petersburg’s tap water was one of the spotlight issues at the Ecology of a Big City international ecology forum held at the city’s Lenexpo exhibition from Wednesday to Friday this week.

The issue was selected as a central theme by the local water utility Vodokanal, in response to concern expressed by many inhabitants of St. Petersburg about the drinkability of the city’s tap water. Ayna Muktepavel, a representative of the company’s information policy department, addressed worries at the forum about water quality. According to Muktepavel, the water is tested by independent laboratories at more than 300 different locations, and the 2.5 billion liters of water processed every day are checked every 10 seconds in special stream tests.

Less conventional methods are also employed to guarantee the quality of the water. Vodokanal uses crayfish testing, in which crayfish and their reaction to the water are constantly monitored. The World of Water museum that opened at Vodokanal’s headquarters in 2003 aims to create awareness, particularly among young people, of water cleaning processes and the importance of high quality water.

The company did concede an elevated iron content in 2 percent of the water samples tested, but the problem will be tackled in June this year by employing a new filter system, according to Tatyana Portnova, head of technical services at Vodokanal. Portnova said that in addition to making the water safer by decreasing its iron content, the company will also start improving tap water for locals’ health by adding extra calcium to it.

Visitors to the forum, at which about 140 exhibitors from more than 10 different countries promoted their products, services and innovations, can also learn about the newest technologies in air protection and waste management, among other things. Special emphasis was paid to developments that decrease toxic waste. The Moscow company Kiel presented a machine that disposes of dangerous clinical waste by compressing and grinding it, turning it into harmless powder comprising just 30 percent of its initial volume. Though the equipment is relatively expensive compared to conventional methods ($164,000 for one device capable of serving one hospital,) the project’s director, Eduard Musiyev, believes his company’s invention will prevail on the market due to its “clear ecological advantages.”

The event, which was organized by the local authorities of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Oblast, as well as the presidential administration for the Northwest federal district, attracted more than 3,500 specialists from around Russia and nearby countries.

The Ecology of a Big City exhibition has been held in St. Petersburg annually for the past ten years. The issues focused on at the forum are nowhere more relevant than they are in Russia – according to the Blacksmith Institute, three out of the 10 most polluted cities in the world are in Russia: Norilsk, Dzerzhinsk and Dalnegorsk and its neighboring Rudnaya Pristan.

St. Petersburg was ranked a dismal 85th out of Russia’s 89 regions in a rating compiled last year by the Russian Independent Environmental Monitoring Agency.

News source: The St. Petersburg Times

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