09 December 2009

Clean Clear Water in St Petersburg?


I love the sound of water!  I hold the pitcher at varying heights when filling the kettle, to hear the music of splashing water.  50-65%s of your body is water, 70% of the world is covered with it, and 50% of an apple is nothing but water. 

Think ... how water is central to our  lives... rinsing your mouth, sipping the first cup of coffee, washing hands, splashing your face, reading a book in the tub.  If the water is good, not too hot or cold, then everything is fine!

Potable when treated, not necessarily on delivery!

The St Petersburg government says our water is potable, and free of fluoride.  True, but the problem lies with what happens to the water when it leaves the treatment area.

Kilometers of pipe carry it to the neighborhoods.  In places the pipe is poor quality or has bad joints.  Corrosion and seepage... disease and pollutants... are the results. 

At times I turn on the faucet to witness a small explosion of crud and dirty water, then orange/brown water for a few minutes to half an hour... usually after repairs in a nearby apartment. Quickly the bathroom sink is stained and needs to be scrubbed.  Our dishes, especially the bottoms, have become off-color.
  Don't ask about our kidneys and livers!

The St Petersburg Plumber...

Poor workmanship before means a lot of work now for city workers and plumbers.  Many plumbers  do not have the same expertise as American union plumbers, nor all the modern tools.  They carry their tools on transport, so they are limited with what they can bring.

If it is to be, it is up to me!     (Ten 2 letter words of inspiration... )

 In Russia, if you want a new sink installed, it is up to you to have the sink, fixtures, paste, nuts, and bolts ready before the plumber arrives. 

I used to say in America that the new American rich were the electricians and plumbers in town.  In Russia skilled trades such as plumbers are paid relatively poorly.  Manual labor comes at a low price.

The Russian Kitchen...

Our daily system is to fill the Brita from the tap.  The resulting water we use for tea, coffee, and cooking. 

The remainder goes in a jar in which we place a Nevoton Silver Water Generator Ionizer, made in SpB.  The sales people claim this process kills all viruses and bacteria in the water.  But a Vancouver scientist states that these claims are quackery.¹

  ¹ Stephen Lower, Professor of Chemistry,retired, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada
    http://www.chem1.com/CQ/ionbunk.html       http://www.chem1.com/CQ/index.html

Hot, Cold, or Scalding!     

In Russia the
Cold  faucet is usually on the left , the Hot on your right.  We have no TMV (Thermostatic Mixing and Shower Valves) so the water often needs to be adjusted to keep the right temperature for shaving or a shower.  Vodokanal, the city water company, supplies hot water from huge boilers. ²
²It's really weird... The Vodakanal trucks only have lettering in Latin, and spell St Petersburg the Western way.  It would be like seeing New York trucks labelled with Russian Cyrllic!

Russians by nature, and lack of training, do not think about the danger of scalding as Americans do.  For safey the bywords are ... 'You are on your own'.  They do not expect things to be planned for safey, so they perhaps are more careful than tourists and unwary expats. 

I want to install a TMV under the bathroom sink, and another on the tub/shower... if we can get the parts and find a competent plumber.  (Also, we are pricing an under-the-sink Aquaphor filter, also made in SpB.)

The Call of the Wild... 

A few years ago our apartment complex got some funding from the city to replace interior long pipes.  Each apartment owner had to contribute some rubles, too.  The lady downstairs refused the expense, so while the water runs better, occasionally we hear her pipes scream like a wounded moose.

Watching the meters spin around...

Until November, we paid an assessment for water based on the number of people in each apartment.  Now,
in response to an edict from the city, we have meters in the bathroom and toilet area...  to control wasteful water use.  We are still not sure if using the meters will reduce our bill. 

Water quality is mediocre to poor...

Today we had tepid hot water into the evening. Sometimes water stops from either the hot or cold tap.  In sum, St Petersburg's water supply doesn't compare well with the rest of Europe or America.

A Traveller's Tip...

If you plan to stay in St Petersburg in a large hotel, you should have none of the problems I relate in this article.  Otherwise, it's wise to ask whether the water is sometimes dirty (rejavey as it sounds in Russian)... if the water temperature is regulated... and state that you expect a full refund if the hot water is turned off for more than three hours.  (We, staying on the Black Sea, we're caught with a pre-paid room that had no more hot water for the rest of our stay.)


Is filtered water necessary where you live?  Do you buy bottled water for the kitchen?  Are there any additives such as fluoride and chlorine in your tap water?

We Appreciate Comments!  

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  1. Hi,
    I hope you are well and set for christmas, do you have snow yet? Silly question probably :)

    Anway, I was having a read through some of your blogs and noticed that the 'Vote for Me' button you have for The Expat Directory doesn't point to the correct page. Here is the right code so your readers can vote for you.

    Enjoy the holidays,

    Kind Regards,


    To fix your vote button - change the

  2. Scalding water is right indeed - it's just the same here in Moscow! I have to turn off my hot water to get cold, and even then, I have to let it run for a minute before it actually gets cold. The nice thing is that the hot water never runs out, and I can wash dishes and then take a shower right afterwards.

  3. Thank you Ashira for your comment. I've been following your blog,and enjoying every post.


    It seems that water is a problem throughout the country. An expat needs to practice jumping away from the sink, and hopping quickly from under the shower, if she is to not be cooked like a holiday chicken!

    I'll add a comment to your blog soon.


Comments, Questions, Ideas