Nevsky Crawfish: My Greatest Love is Water

On March 22, the main hero of the Da-Voda website celebrates his birthday. On this occasion we have decided to conduct a "hotline" and asked friends of the Nevsky Crayfish to ask him questions in social networks - about the biomonitoring service, about the water supply and sewerage of St. Petersburg, about saving water and protecting rare species of pinnipeds. We publish the answers here.

Have there been any cases of seals birth on the territory of St. Petersburg Vodokanal? How many seals have been saved for all time of the Vodokanal existence?

SUE "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg" supports the work of the specialists of the Center for the study and conservation of marine mammals since 2013. Thanks to zoologists more than 100 animals that have been rehabilitated and returned to natural habitat. Seals have never born in the center, but we can say that many of them have almost born again. Due to the instability of the ice cover and strong winds pups are prematurely detached from the feeding females before the term. Residents of the coastal areas report about the animals found on the shore to the hotline (812) 699-23-99, and zoologists decide whether assistance is needed. Often pups arrive with severe injuries. At the Pinnipeds Center, patients are treated and taught independent life skills, and then released into native waters.

Now the problem of water resources contamination with microplastic is very urgent. When entering the water, the large plastic material eventually breaks up into very small particles. They are able to skip even through nanofilters. These particles circulate in water, are swallowed by fish and animals. They also get into a human. They are extremely toxic. Can crayfish feel the presence of these particles? Is there now a method of purifying water from these particles in St. Petersburg?

Crayfishes are used to living in muddy water, where a different suspension exists. For us, the microplastic is the same particle as the sand, which, if swallowed, does not do major harm. This type of pollution is more dangerous for smaller organisms, such as small crustaceans and mollusks, since it can enter the respiratory system and accumulate in the digestive organs.

For me, larger particles are more dangerous - visible plastic particles that can hinder my breathing or digestion, if I accidentally swallow it.

Concerning toxicity of microplastic. By itself, it is inert. Usually it is the remains of packages used by a person, and therefore this plastic is not toxic by itself.

The microplastic does not pass through nanofilters, because nano is 1000 times smaller than micro. As a matter of fact, it is the same fine suspension as grains of sand, that is why conventional cleaning methods are coping with it: sedimentation, filtering, coagulants ... As for the preparation of drinking water, at waterworks in St. Petersburg the water is deeply purified, and the turbidity in the drinking water is about 0.2 mg / l. This is significantly less than the specification for turbidity, approved by as 1.5 mg / l.

Studies conducted by the Vodokanal in St. Petersburg in 2013, together with colleagues from Finland, have shown that our sewage treatment facilities detain more than 90 percent of the microplastic contained in the wastewater.

Tell me, how exactly do you help the Vodokanal to work?

Since 2010 I have been working in the South-West sewage treatment plant, in the biomonitoring system. My task is to monitor the quality of wastewater treatment. If toxic substances suddenly appear, my heart will begin to beat more often, and this will be fixed by a fiber-optic sensor attached to the shell. An alarm will be sent to the controller's console. This is a team work - there are six crayfishes on duty. With the onset of warm weather, we, the Neva crayfish, are replaced by Australian red-bellied crayfish - to exclude a system false alarm. After all, an increase in temperature of the wastewater does not cause discomfort to them.

And as the water intakes of the city, my colleagues work all year round there - they control the quality of the water from the Neva before it goes to the cleaning.

Are you friends with other inhabitants of the Neva?

Yes, we are friends with my colleagues in the biomonitoring system, fish. They also fulfill an important mission. If in the water there suddenly are dangerous substances, the fish will stop swimming in their aquariums and sink to the bottom. Specialists monitor constantly their condition with the help of video cameras.

How to start a city dweller who wants to reduce water consumption?

First of all, of course, install water meters and monitor them. I explain in my video tutorials on the Da-Voda website how to do it. And of course, you need to monitor the serviceability of plumbing in the house and close the tap when brushing your teeth. These are the simplest, but very effective ways.

What kind of water do we have in St. Petersburg - soft or tough? And what does it mean?

Water hardness in St. Petersburg is 0.67-0.77 mmol / l, almost always within these limits. This means that the water is soft; the content of calcium and magnesium salts in it is low. This is the property of the water in the Neva, which is the source of water supply for most of the city, with the exception of some suburbs, where water is extracted from underground sources. Soft water is "friendly" with washing machines and dishwashers, because scum is not formed, and special softening agents are not required.

In the Water Museum in St.Petersburg there is a model of the person demonstrating how much water is contained in each of our organs: the least water (only 8%) in the enamel of the teeth, the most (98%) in the eyes. And how many percent of water is in our heart?

The human heart consists of 70% of water.

How do you spend your free time?

I try to spend it usefully, so occasionally I conduct lessons in the Children's Ecological Center, in the Water Museum and on the website Da-voda. I tell you how to save water at home and at work to help the seals of the Baltic Sea and lake Ladoga, and why it is necessary to protect our water bodies.

Nevsky Crayfish, your status VKontakte is "in love". And in whom? Do you have a wife?

I, you can say, am married to my job. I give myself completely to my favorite work - I monitor the wastewater treatment quality. I have a girlfriend, an African snail; she also works at the SWTP in a biomonitoring system, controls the flue gases cleaning in sludge incineration plants. In general, my greatest love is water in all its appearances: the Neva, the Baltic Sea, rain and snow, streams and springs. I would like people to share my feelings.

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