Ulaanbaatar City administrators put together the first-ever program on protecting drinking water for the Mongolian population, with the assistance of the World Health Organization (WHO).
WHO estimates that 74 possible risks face the nation’s drinking water sources and raised 168 solutions which have been included in the program.
The completed program was supported by Ulaanbaatar City Council’s (UCC) Commission for Environment and Ecology and it will be discussed in the regular meeting of the UCC next Monday.
If approved, households and businesses located near drinking-water sources (artesian wells and rivers) will be relocated with the cooperation of land management authorities; bacteria research will be conducted at several locations; solid waste disposal sites will be eradicated; and leather and cashmere factories, which are common sources of river pollution, will be relocated to the outskirts of the city as part of the program.
Approximately 1.2 million people live in the Tuul River basin area, where 170 artesian wells are located, while over 20,000 factories and businesses are operating along the river. Farms covering 400 hectares of land constantly take water from the Tuul for their irrigation systems, in addition to river water used for 330,000 livestock and three thermal power plants.
Ulaanbaatar residents use 150,000 to 160,000 cubic meters of drinking water per day, while offices use another daily 150,000 cubic meters of water from central water distribution lines. All the drinking water is taken from public and private wells in ger areas, according to the Office of the Ulaanbaatar City Governor.
Yet, water demands are increasing day by day, in relation to flourishing industries and a rising population in the city, while the safety of the 170 primary wells remains questionable due to widespread illegal construction and gravel mining, and general human interference.
A lack of water treatment plants, increasing outdoor toilets and the open disposal of greywater are all affecting not only water sources, but also soil pollution. The polluted soil runs into the Tuul River during heavy rain and pollutes the water, according to many years of study, reported the program coordinators.
Both the organizers and WHO aim to minimize pollution and prevent threats facing drinking water sources as soon as possible.