Without drinking water

October 1999

(editor and journalist, Naryan-Mar, Nenets Autonomous Okrug, rednv@atnet.ru )

At the Barents Sea coast at Cheshskaya Guba, in the Nenets Autonomous Okrug, the two reindeer herding communities Indiga and Vyucheyskiy are situated. About 2000 people live there, mainly Nenets reindeer breeders. Some time ago, in one of the villages, there was a canning factory which produced tinned fish and meat. However, it had to be closed down because of the lack of drinking water. In the area around the villages, the water is salty due to the proximity of the sea. In the winter, the inhabitants have to melt snow and ice, while in the summer, water must be brought in from an adjacent artificial reservoir. Therefore, people have always faced problems with food preparation and washing. Compounding matters, a local tragedy occurred in the summer of 1994 - diesel fuel was spilled into the reservoir by negligent military troops. The damage amounted to 170 million rubles at the rates of 1994, but the local community only received 3 million rubles in compensation. Since then, drinking water problems have been severe, and the consequences cannot be predicted if no immediate measures are taken.