Country's rivers suffer as water treatment facilities remain out of order

Photo: CTK

If you were to stand along the embankment of the Vltava river that runs through Prague, you would no longer find it to be a romantic and soothing experience but would probably be forced to turn away in disgust instead. With over sixty water treatment facilities damaged by the devastating floods that hit the country at the start of the month, waste from the sewer system is now being flushed directly into several Czech rivers. Whilst in most cases the situation is under control, the amount of waste in the Vltava river that runs through the Czech capital is alarming as Prague's water treatment plant responsible for the cleaning of over 90% of the city's waste is still out of operation.

Photo: CTK
It will cost an estimated half a billion Czech crowns to repair the country's damaged plants, and it has become the environment ministry's priority to monitor the rivers. Vaclav Berousek, the Chief Inspector at the Environmental Inspectorate, has already warned that the Vltava river is as dirty now as it once was twelve years ago. With many factors, such as the rivers' flow, rain, and the amount of waste produced by residents, experts are unable to predict whether it is a matter of days, months or years before the river's state will be back to normal. Jaroslav Kinkor is the director of the water defence department at the ministry of environment...

According to Mr Kinkor, the difficulty of cleaning up the river should not be underestimated. The process will take several months. Just getting through all the debris of pieces of wood from flooded cottages, car tires, etc. is in itself dangerous. Although there have been no cases of infection, hygienists have urged residents to avoid any contact with the river water. Residents of Prague have been asked to refrain from pouring paint, thinners, oil and other similar liquids into the sewerage system.

The flushing of food such as potato skins, fruit and other organic food into domestic toilets should also be avoided, and the use of toilet paper limited. Failure to follow such advice, he says, will result in rotting food sitting on river beds and river banks as well as oil floating on the river surface, hence endangering plant and animal life. Whilst just a few days ago, Czechs were desperate to see river levels fall, environmentalists and hygienists now hope levels will stay the same, the flow of water will increase and rain will help to cleanse the rivers of waste.