Testing the water for nitrates and more – on the surface and underground


Naviny.by looked at how experts check water from surface and underground sources, and also tested for nitrates. Read and watch the outcomes.

There are no nitrates in Krynitsa and oxygen is normal

We went with a mobile laboratory from the Republican Centre for Analytical Control in the Field of Environmental Protection to the Krynitsa reservoir, which is on the Svislach River. There are a lot of fishermen there in almost all weathers, as well as bathing areas, so it was interesting to check the water quality in the dam.

Hanna Harmel, Deputy Head of the Laboratory for Analytical Control of Water Quality and Land Pollution, says that surface water quality is monitored on a regular basis. Hanna lowered a bucket from the bridge to draw water from the middle of the reservoir. The selection location matters. For example, water is not taken from the shore for analysis: the results will be incorrect.

We tested the water first. In our arsenal, we had test strips that show the presence of nitrates in the water. Result: there is no excess of nitrates in the water.

In the mobile laboratory, the analysis for the level of dissolved oxygen, as well as for the specific electrical conductivity and the PH of the water was made by a leading chemical engineer Katsiaryna Dolhun.

The results are good, concluded Liudmila Shyshko, deputy head of the organisational and methodological department of the Centre.

She noted that the Republican Centre for Analytical Control in the Field of Environmental Protection will soon be able to determine the content of dangerous pollutants, and in microdoses.

According to Victoria Zmitrovich, head of the laboratory for physical and chemical measurements at the Centre, modern high-tech equipment has been purchased for laboratories in Minsk and Homel within the framework of the EU-funded ‘European Union Water Initiative Plus for the Eastern Partnership’ (EUWI+ 4 EaP). The equipment includes a specialised liquid chromatograph, worth €214,000 alone, which allows to determine the presence of harmful substances in water at the level of microdoses. In addition, funds were allocated for the device's maintenance and training of the laboratory staff.

The total funding for Belarus from the EUWI+ international technical assistance project is €2,620,853.

How to manage rivers

Within the framework of the European Union Water Initiative for the Eastern Partnership Countries (EUWI+ 4 EaP), a river basin management plan has been developed for one of the five main river basins in Belarus – the Prypiats. The other four are the basins of the Neman, the Western Buh, the Western Dzvina, and the Dnieper. It remains to develop plans for the Neman and Western Dzvina basins. The management plan of the Western Buh is already there, and will be revised and adapted to meet latest requirements.

Uladzimir Karneyeu, head of the Monitoring and State Cadastre Department of Central Research Institute for Integrated Use of Water Resources at the Ministry of Natural Resources, was directly involved in the development of the plan for the Dnieper basin management.

He says that the management of a water body means developing measures that will make it cleaner, so that there are fish there, so that it is safe to swim. Ways to improve the condition of reservoirs are known: it is necessary to build mini-treatment facilities (local wastewater treatment) at enterprises, and ensure that water is reused in a closed cycle.

The Svislach River, which feeds into one of the reservoirs of which we took a water sample, is one of the rivers whose condition causes concern, especially in the area below the capital's treatment facilities - the Minsk sewage treatment plant. To improve the environmental condition of a river, it is necessary, among the above-mentioned measures, to modernise the treatment plant, said Uladzimir Karneyeu. The Minsk sewage treatment plant, which was built in the 1960s, is planned to be modernised as part of a large investment project.

Svislach is part of the Dnieper basin, it flows into its tributary - the Berazina River. And the Dnieper is a cross-border river that flows into the Black Sea.

"The cleanliness of our river basins is of mutual interest. Both we and our European partners are interested in this. Our rivers flow into the seas, the quality of water in which also depends on the purity of our rivers," stressed Uladzimir Karneyeu.

As part of the EU Water Initiative, he said, Belarus also assessed the state of underground water – its chemical composition and quantity.

"The importance of groundwater is difficult to overestimate”

Uladzimir Mazur, leading hydro-geologist of the Research and Production Centre for Geology shows the Minsk hydro-geological post, which is equipped with five wells.

The water in one of the wells, drilled in 1975 to a depth of 28 metres, is now at the level of 2.5 meters. In Belarus, there is a network of 47 such posts, with the deepest well about 50 metres. And the oldest goes back to the 1930s.

It is very important to check surface waters, Uladzimir Mazur noted, because they are a breeding ground for artesian waters and are more susceptible to pollution than the latter. Observations at each well are carried out three times a month. We got to see an unscheduled one. The specialist checked the water level and temperature using equipment purchased under the EU Water Initiative.

This time, the chemical analysis was not done – usually there is a check for iron, nitrates, nitrites and other elements. If something undesirable is found, the source is looked for, but in general, this work is for collecting information.

We tested the water from the well for the content of nitrates: their amount was minimal.

"The importance of groundwater is difficult to overestimate, it is like air. This is our health, our life," concluded Uladzimir Mazur.

Author: Elena Spasyuk

Article published in Russian by Naviny.by