Water supply in the Russian-occupied part of Ukraine’s Donetsk region is dangerously low, according to Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-declared Donetsk People’s Republic.
Many households get just two hours of water supply every three days, the Moscow-backed leader said in an online Q&A session.
The city of Donetsk lost its main source of water, a canal that runs through the eastern Ukrainian cities of Chasiv Yar and Bakhmut.
Crews are still working to complete an alternative canal from the Siverskyi Donets River, which should bring relief from the water crisis, according to Pushilin.
“The military is doing everything possible to speed up the resolution of this issue,” he said of the canal work. “But we need water today.”
To address immediate needs, Pushilin said crews are building a water pipeline to the Don River in Russia. It will only improve the situation marginally but will increase water supply overall, he said.
In the meantime, residents are using water pumped from the region’s mines.
“The mine water is of inadequate quality for the supply,” Pushilin said. “This is disastrous for our water networks, which are already in a poor condition.”
Some background: The canal supplying much of Donetsk’s water was built in the mid-20th century. Its route through Chasiv Yar takes it past heavy fighting between Russian and Ukrainian troops. Its filtration station is near the town of Avdiivka, another scene of constant battles.
Donetsk residents have told CNN the water situation is very difficult, especially on the upper floors of buildings because of inadequate pressure.
Maryna, a 42-year-old artist who lives on the outskirts of Donetsk city, told CNN:
“We have been living with practically no water since last February. I can use water in the courtyard of a private house, (but) in my apartment, water comes for a few hours several days a week. We gather things, clothes to wash, now it is a luxury. My whole apartment is occupied by water containers because I have two children.”