'Safety margin of Soviet legacy is exhausted': Kazan announces an approaching utility armageddon

Depreciation of the municipal networks of the capital of Tatarstan is 70-90%. The cost of investments is estimated at almost a billion dollars

'Safety margin of Soviet legacy is exhausted': Kazan announces an approaching utility armageddon
Photo: Dmitry Reznov

Kazan's water supply networks, laid in the 1950-70s, cannot cope with the load due to dilapidation. Since the beginning of 2021, 55 failures have occurred on household sewerage networks alone, more than 900 accidents have occurred on water supply networks, about 100 applications are received daily by the emergency service of Vodokanal. Mayor Ilsur Metshin believes that the problem cannot be solved without the federal centre, but it allocates funds only to cities with a population of up to 500 thousand people. The mayor called for all possible ways to lobby for funding, threatening that otherwise the capital of Tatarstan will not fulfill plans to introduce new housing. Besides, the city authorities promised to accelerate the elimination of all garages, junk cars, and retail facilities illegally located on municipal land plots. Read the details in the material of Realnoe Vremya.

9 hundred accidents and 55 failures

Director of Vodokanal Municipal Unitary Enterprise Andrey Yegorov said that the company serves more than 3,000 km of networks, of which 70% are dilapidated and emergency, the service life of which expired more than 10 years ago. The length of such networks is 1,700 km, and this figure increases by 2-3% annually.

“These networks were laid in the 1950-70s. Over the past 10 years, more than 1,3 km of unattended networks with more than 90% wear have been identified and put on the books. And all this needs to be relaid. The overhaul of the networks built back in Soviet times was not carried out comprehensively, because when the service life came to an end, the city faced other tasks: there was a programme of resettlement of dilapidated housing, whole neighborhoods were built, to which water supply and sewerage networks were laid. Then 2 million square metres of housing were built from scratch, the whole neighborhood of Azino grew, the Novo-Savinovsky district was massively built up. Then another programme began — the construction of social housing, a huge number of objects were connected to the networks for free. Now the safety margin of the Soviet legacy has been exhausted. The point of no return has been passed," Yegorov said.

Since 2010, more than 14 thousand accidents have occurred in Kazan's water supply networks due to wear and tear. The main networks go under the roadbed, pedestrian and green areas, in the repair of which a lot of effort and money has been invested. Therefore, emergencies occur at newly built or renovated facilities. Over the past 5 years, 600 such cases have been recorded. Yegorov gave examples of recent cases of collector bursts, which caused pot holes to form on the roadway of the intersections of Volgogradskaya and Korolenko streets, Amirkhana and Chistopolskaya Streets. Last Saturday, two more failures occured one after the other in the last section, and since the beginning of the year — 19.

Yegorov gave the examples of recent cases of collector bursts, which caused pot holes in the roadway

In the city centre on the roadway of Mardzhani Street, there was a subsidence of a sewer pipe. The funds provided for scheduled repairs are allocated to eliminate these accidents, which leads to a deterioration of the condition of the networks. The situation is complicated by the depth of the pipes, reaching 8 metres, groundwater and fresh communications, as well as their presence in the “body” of roads or sidewalks.

New technologies allow switching consumers to temporary schemes, so most residents do not notice the inconveniences that have arisen. Now emergency works are carried out at night without disconnecting from the water supply, but it requires complex technological solutions and high costs. This year, 55 failures have occurred on household sewerage networks alone, and more than 900 accidents have occurred on water supply networks. “The cause of all accidents is the same — dilapidation," Yegorov said. Every day, the emergency service of Vodokanal receives about 100 applications.

Sixty-five billion rubles are required to repair networks, of which 40 billion rubles are only for networks.

“We have applied for all existing programmes for the overhaul and reconstruction of networks. But they are aimed at supporting cities with a population of up to 500,000 people," Yegorov drew attention.

Metshin called on the president of Tatarstan to increase the tariff for connection to the networks of Vodokanal throughout the country

“Kazan is left alone with this problem”

The mayor of Kazan, Ilsur Metshin, noted that this is a problem not only of Kazan, but of all cities with any number of inhabitants. But the federal centre has met only small cities that can be included in the targeted network overhaul programme.

“The cities of million people, such as Kazan, have been left alone with this problem. At the same time, we cannot develop the city, build new networks. These are the blood vessels of the city, the condition of which is of great concern today. The number of accidents — 14 thousand bursts — speaks for itself... In 2014, it was decided to reduce the cost per a square metre of housing. It would seem to be the right decision, today a square metre has exceeded 100 thousand rubles, and the cost of connecting to the networks is 500 rubles. Half a percent per square metre. But they lost 12 billion rubles because of this decision.”

Metshin called on the president of Tatarstan to increase the tariff for connection to the networks of Vodokanal throughout the country. Without this, it is impossible to solve the task of commissioning new housing. The mayor compared it to the situation when a first-grader is trying to pull on the shoes that he wore at the age of 5.

“We are building social infrastructure, all this is connected with the implementation of national projects. But water will not come by air or in the form of rain. Plus, there are still issues of sewerage. Everything, it would seem, is good externally, we are achieving success on many issues — both under the Our Yard programme, and almost 85% of the roads and street networks have been brought to a normative state, but inside the city — rot. And it's thousands of kilometres. Back in 2014, there were 2,660 kilometres of networks, today — 3,000. In 5 years, they have grown by 335 km — it's comparable to the distance from Kazan to Samara. And this is not a pipe with a cross section of 10 mm, these are huge water pipes, a huge economy has been added," Metshin said.

Vodokanal, using its own funds and loans, financed the construction of the Zarechnaya Sewerage Pumping Station at a cost of 7,7 billion rubles. Photo: Rinat Nazmetdinov

The mayor said that the city is trying to find a solution. Vodokanal, using its own funds and loans, financed the construction of the Zarechnaya Sewerage Pumping Station at a cost of 7,7 billion rubles. This made it possible not to stop the construction in Zarechye. But the problem of network wear cannot be solved without the help of the federal centre. Therefore, the mayor called on the new deputy corps, the Ministry of Construction of Russia, headed by Irek Fayzullin, a native of Tatarstan, and other institutions to lobby for the allocation of funds to Kazan.

A crusade against garages and car junk

Since the implementation of the Our Yard programme, the city authorities have set the task for the heads of districts to conduct an audit of all illegally placed objects in them — garages, abandoned rusty cars, sheds and shopping pavilions. The heads of the districts reported that the work on the establishment of the owners of this property and the demolition of unattended objects began in 2019. This year, the mayor's office has allocated funds for these works, and they have intensified. Some owners dispose of or dismantle their property on their own. Playgrounds or parking lots appear on the released territory.

At the same time, illegal objects of trade located on municipal land plots, including on adjacent territories, are being liquidated. The head of the Consumer Market Committee, Ruslan Fazylzyanov, noted that thanks to the norms adopted by the Kazan City Duma, now the period for which the owners of independently installed sales points must dismantle them has been reduced from 30 to 12 days. In total, 2,1 thousand stalls and pavilions have been liquidated in the city since 2016, 329 of them this year alone, 108 disassembled objects were taken to the storage base. After that, they are recognised as ownerless by a court decision and will be disposed of.

“This year, the term for recognising such objects as ownerless has also been optimised and reduced from three months to one. This allowed us to speed up the work on the elimination of dismantled trade pavilions. These works have been started since 2018. As of today, 651 objects have been recognised as ownerless, 510 objects have already been disposed of, 141 more objects are planned for disposal. Besides, thanks to the changes made to the dismantling procedure at the end of 2020, we are empowered to dismantle trailers and sales vans from which illegal trade is conducted. During this period, 91 car stalls were dismantled," Fazylzyanov reported.

Ruslan Fazylzyanov noted that the period for which the owners of independently installed outlets have to dismantle them has been reduced from 30 to 12 days

This year, the city authorities went even further and began to seize seasonal trade objects during raids. Thus, entrepreneurs lost four points of sale and more than 2 tonnes of vegetables and fruits. According to the head of the committee, the “pilot” has shown its effectiveness and will be used in the future.

Metshin noted that the demolition of such retail facilities is a support for those entrepreneurs who work legally. Regarding the further cleaning of territories from car junk and abandoned constructions, he promised additional funding for their elimination. “We will eliminate the hotbed of unsanitary conditions. In our time, this is to be completed," he said.

The mayor urged not only to draw up a schedule for “cleaning”, but also to find a site on the outskirts of the city where all the unattended trash would be taken. If it does not have owners within three months— it will be disposed of.

Eleonora Rylova. Photo: kzn.ru
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