How to use this document In the event of a new deepening of the crisis in eastern Ukraine, the appropriate 1-page response outline in this document will form the basis of discussions by WASH cluster partners, within 24 hours, to decide which partner will do what; where; and how much funding is required overall.
Background and summary of risks
In 2017 around 4.2 million people are affected by the ongoing crisis, with 3.7 million in need of Humanitarian WASH assistance. In the first six months of 2017, 3.0 million people were cut from water for a period of more than24 hours, with an average stoppage of more than 4 days. Sadly, there are scenarios in which the level of violence increases, both during the winter or the summer, when additional immediate action will be needed.
Those scenarios, and possible reactions of WASH implementing organisations, are set out in this document.
Winter disruption of water supply systems was of alarming concern in the conflict area while temperatures fell below -17C degrees in early 2017.From 29th January onward the security situation along the Line of Contact (LoC) near Donetsk city rapidly deteriorated, with several close combat clashes and the use of heavy artillery reported around Avdiivka, in Government-Controlled Areas (GCA), and Yasynuvata and Donetsk in Non Government-Controlled Areas (NGCA). OHCHR recorded 33 civilian casualties (8 deaths and 25 injuries) in January 2017, as compared to 17 civillian casualties in January of 2016. The sudden increase of hostilities caused severe damage to residential property and critical public infrastructure, including kindergartens, schools, medical facilities and industrial plants. Damage to major water pipelines included major leakage of the Southern Donbas Water Pipeline as a result of shelling near Avdiivka, which affects more than 700,000 people in South of Donetsk. There is still a potential for stoppage of water and breakdown of heating systems for 350,000 people fed by Krasnoarmiiske and Velykoandolska Filter Stations, and a similar number of people in Mariupol city who are less at risk.
On 30th January, Donetsk Filter Station (DFS) stopped working due to shelling for 48 hours as power lines were cut. Such winter shelling was repeated, so that in the first three months of 2017 DFS stopped working on 8 separate occasions. The 345,000 people supplied by DFS then became dependent on Verkhnikalmiuske Filter Station, However on 1st February, shelling near Verkhnikalmiuska Filter Station also cut its electricity supply, resulting in a 24-hours discontinuation of water provision to some 1.1 million people living in Donetsk city, Makievka and suburbs. Power lines to Avdiivka town and coke plant were also shelled, leaving around 16,000 residents without water and sometimes heating. Similar risks exist for Toretsk city (70,000 people), and meanwhile in Luhansk oblast the civil military authority have highlighted that should the pipelines connecting Severodonetsk and Lysychansk fail, as pipes are about 90 years old and under high pressure, then heating to 40,000 people in the “RTI” area of the city would stop.
In June 2017 stoppages of the first lift pumping station of the South Donbass Water pipeline also significantly affected people supplied by five filter stations, which stopped receiving raw water. Two filter stations near Mariupol were able to continue to operate due to access to the large Staroskrimska reservoir, and people previously served by Donetsk Filter station were covered by Verkhnikalmiuske instead. However around 400,000 people served by Velikoanadolske FS, Krasnoarmiiske FS, or using raw water as in the case of Mariinka and Kranihorlivka, had no substantial backup. Those people are still at risk due to problems of leakage in the South Donbass Water Pipeline, and the risk of water related diseases compounds the issue during summer months.
There are additional risks from industrial pollution incidents: the conflict area is highly industrialized, with coal mines, steel works and chemical plants. Both chronic and acute pollution risks exist, from mine water effluent; subsidence causing broken water and sewage mains; and pollution of rivers by sewage effluent and/or effluent from waste lagoons at chemical plants. In particular the waste lagoon at Toretsk Phenol plant is located on the frontline, and there is a risk, either due to shelling or lack of dam maintenance, of pollution of the Siverski Donets river, which would negatively affect Luhansk oblast as well as the Russian Federation, further downstream.