Ukraine Dam Destruction Threatens Those Upstream, Too

The taps had run dry in the morning in her village, Prydniprovske, said Tetyana, who like other local residents withheld their surnames for security reasons. She had just managed to do a load of washing in time. And the pipe that she used to water the vegetables had also dried up.

Built 75 years ago, the Kakhovka Reservoir, the largest body of fresh water in Ukraine, is the life and livelihood of communities across a huge region. Its water feeds everything from small homes to large industries, with gardens, vineyards, shipping businesses and steel plants all reliant on the reservoir.

Now, all are under threat. The towns and villages that grew up around the reservoir face hardship, even extinction, endangering a critical pillar of Ukraine’s economy.

“It’s probably the biggest ecological disaster in the history of independent Ukraine,” said Oleksii Vasyliuk, the head of the board of the Ukrainian Nature Conservation Group, referring to the period since the breakup of the Soviet Union more than 30 years ago.

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