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Water Troubles in Yakutia (Sakha)

Submitted by on March 5, 2012 – 7:35 pm |  
Many regions of the world suffer from shortages of fresh, potable water. But Yakutia (or the Russian internal republic of Sakha) joining the list of places suffering from inadequate potable water supply is surprising. After all, Yakutia boasts more rivers (over 700,000), lakes (over 800,000), and other sources of fresh water than any other region of the Russian Federation. Its largest river, Lena, is over 2,700 miles (4400 km) long, and the combine river length in the republic is over 1.2 million miles. The annual discharge of the Lena is roughly equal to that of the Mississippi. Yet, the availability and quality of potable water are becoming a serious economic and health problem, as reported by SakhaNews. The main reason behind Yakutia’s water troubles appears to be systemic: the infrastructure for water intake is old and the distribution system is worn-out. New water-intake systems are being built in a number of districts and towns throughout the republic, but they will not be completed before 2015-2016 at the earliest. It appears that financing is at the root of the problem: although Yakutia’s GDP is above the Russian average, federal funds are relied upon for water infrastructure maintenance and construction. However, since federal funds designated for this purpose in earlier years were not used up, no new funds were allotted to the republic in 2011.

More unusual news about Yakutia (Sakha) recently appeared in the Russia & India Report. This report claims that some officials in the Indian state of Goa think that their state attracts too many Russian tourists, some of whom drink too much alcohol. According to the article, “The Indian holidays attracts Russians from remote regions of the country such as Siberia, Yakutia and Kamchatka.” It is not surprising that people from Yakutia would be attracted to Goa in the winter: Yakutsk’s average January high temperature is negative 36 degrees celsius (-33 F). But as the republic’s population is less than a million and most of its people have little extra money, it is difficult to image any kind of mass winter exodus to Goa’s resorts.




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