Ukraine's water supplies are in dire shape from the war's damage
A group of scientists has conducted what might be the most accurate study yet of how war affects the environment. They looked at how the war has affected Ukraine's water resources. Scientists from Germany, Belgium, Ukraine, and the United States made up the international team. Not surprisingly, the team's findings are pretty shocking.
The authors looked at how the military actions affected freshwater resources and infrastructure during the first three months of the conflict. They looked at the nature of the effects, the kinds of pressures on the water sector, and the harmful effects on the availability and quality of freshwater resources for the civilian population.
The results show that many water infrastructures, such as dams at reservoirs, water supply and treatment systems, and subsurface mines, have been impacted by or are at risk from military actions. The continuation of the conflict will have multiple negative sustainability implications in Ukraine and on a global scale, hampering the achievement of clean water and sanitation, conservation and sustainable use of water resources, energy security, and food security.
The authors looked at 64 reports of effects on the water sector and found 49 that could be true and 15 that could be false.
According to these reports, water transfer had pretty much stopped, military actions had polluted surface water, dams were broken, mines overflowed, bacterial pollution was common, and water and sewage treatment facilities were almost not working. In addition, flooding, dangers linked to nuclear power plants, and periodic flooding of underground mines were all named as possible threats.
The authors checked data from Ukrainian, Russian, and international government and media sources to ensure the information wasn't skewed.
From February 18, 2022, to May 30, 2022, the first three months of the armed conflict, they collected data on how it affected water resources and infrastructure. Although the match started on February 24, 2022, they included information from one week before due to massive attacks on water infrastructure in the eastern part of Ukraine during this period.
While their results are worrying, the authors know that the data they collected might not be complete because armed conflicts are complex. Still, they tried to get as much information as possible and organize it in a way that would be useful.
You can view the study for yourself in the journal Nature.
"The armed conflict between Ukraine and Russia that began in late February 2022 has far-reaching environmental consequences, especially regarding water resources and management. Here we analyzed the multifaceted impacts of the military actions on freshwater resources and water infrastructure during the first three months of the conflict. We identified the nature of the impacts, the kind of pressures imposed on the water sector and the negative consequences for the availability and quality of freshwater resources for the civilian population. Our results showed that many water infrastructures such as dams at reservoirs, water supply and treatment systems and subsurface mines have been impacted or are at risk from military actions. Continuation of the conflict will have multiple negative sustainability implications not only in Ukraine but also on a global scale, hampering achievement of clean water and sanitation, conservation and sustainable use of water resources, and energy and food security."
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