The history of the Petersburg's centralized water supply goes back to 10 October, 1858, when the Charter of "St. Petersburg Water Pipelines Joint-Stock Company" was approved by Alexander II

Among the founders of the Joint-Stock Company were engineers, such as A.N. Erakov, P.I. Palibin, A.A. Peretz, E.I. Okel, and big businessmen – I.I. Glazunov, M.I. Yakunchikov, I.N. Kushinnikov.


The JSC faced huge financial and technical problems at the initial stage. In early 1863, the construction of water networks practically stopped. By then, the water tower in Shpalernaya st. (architects I.A. Merz and E. Shubersky) had been built and several kilometers of water distribution networks had been laid. The JSC's registered capital was spent, the shares sold badly, and even the government subsidy could not alter the situation. In March 1863, the 1 Guild merchant A.I. Kron from St. Petersburg joined the JSC, contributed the lacking sum (approximately, 900,000 Roubles) and took up completion of the long-drawn works.

Water supply to the first customers started by the end of 1863.

Some modifications were made to the initial design during the construction period. At first, it was decided to take water from a sort of a "ladle" – the artificial water body near Tavrichesky Palace connected with the Neva. However, the "ladle" proved to be unsuitable for this purpose, and the JSC had to arrange water intake from the Neva.

Before mid-1870s, the water network was only used by the citizens on the left-bank side. The new joint-stock company (Partnership) was established in 1873 (to be managed by English contractors) to supply water to Peterburgskaya (Petrogradskaya) and Vyborgskaya areas and Vasilyevsky Island.

In 1890 the State Duma took a decision to buy out the assets owned by the St. Petersburg Water Pipelines Joint-Stock Company, and in 1892 – to buy out also the assets of the New Water Networks Partnership.
The City Executive Commission for water supply of St. Petersburg was established to manage the water networks and was subordinated to the city administration. The manager of municipal water networks was appointed on a submission from the Chairman of the Executive Commission.

During the first decades of the centralized water supply operation in St. Petersburg all customers received water which passed only primary mechanical treatment. In 1889 sand filters were put into operation at the Main Waterworks (the filters had been built by the St. Petersburg Water Pipelines Joint-Stock Company) as demanded by the city authorities.

In 1911 the filtration station with water ozonation was built in Peterburgskaya (Petrogradskaya) area. Chlorine disinfection of drinking water was implemented at the Main Waterworks (the first chlorination experiments were made in Kronstadt in 1909).
The Executive Commission for sewerage construction and water supply rehabilitation in St. Petersburg established by the City Duma had worked since 1911 and took over most of the functions in relation to water supply development.

  • Water supply of Saint-Petersburg Project

  • Water carrier

  • Main Waterworks, XIX-XX centuries

  • Wastewater disposal in the 20s of the last century

Communist period

World War I and the Civil War had a negative impact on the technical condition of the city's water supply system, including its plants, equipment and networks. In 1920s-early 1930s wood pipes had to be used sometimes for construction of water networks due to the lack of more suitable materials.
It was only by 1935 that the pre-revolution level of water supply to the city network had been reached.
However, there were also some achievements at that time.
First of all, construction of the Southern Waterworks (stage I was put into operation in 1933, a part of stage II – in 1940) and modernization of the Main Waterworks treatment facilities should be mentioned.

In 1923–1924 construction of sewer networks was resumed. In 1925 the city authorities approved the major sewerage plans for Leningrad (separate system with four independent sewer basins). Vasilyevsky Island was selected as experimental district for the construction of a new sewerage system. Construction of sewers in Vasilyevsky Island (total length of street networks – 153.3 km) had lasted for 10 years. Vasileostrovskaya sewage pumping station was completed by 1930. Wastewater was discharged to the Neva Bay without any treatment.
In the 1930s more and more sewers were built in other city districts. The length of sewer networks in Leningrad reached 1130 km which exceeded the pre-revolutionary level more than twice.
In 1940 a new sewerage scheme of Leningrad was adopted. It was also based on a separate sewerage system. The scheme envisaged mechanical treatment and precipitation followed by discharge to four waterways of the Neva Bay. Stormwater was to be discharged to all watercourses in the city. It was planned to use the tunneling method to build the main sewers.

A special page in Vodokanal's history is related to World War II and the blockade of Leningrad. The waterworks and facilities, clean water tanks, treatment plants, water networks and sewers were subject to intensive bombing and shelling. As many as 955 shells exploded within the area of the Southern WTP alone.
The personnel of the most important facilities were put on a war footing.
Destruction of networks caused the flooding of basements, streets and squares and sometimes even the whole city districts. Nevertheless, both the city water networks and the sewerage system were working without interruption except 25-26 January 1942 when the electricity supply was cut off.

Over the period between 1950 and 1970 the annual average water supply to the city has grown more than twice – from 912,800 m3 to 2,057,600 m3. The Southern WTP stage II was put into operation in 1948, Volkovskaya WTP – in 1964, and the Northern WTP stage I – in 1971. Wide-scale construction of water pumping stations was underway too.
In 1952 the State Committee of the Council of Ministers of the USSR approved the project of sewerage construction in the central part of Leningrad where a combined sewerage system was proposed instead of separate sewerage. The first stage of sewerage in the city centre including the Main Pumping Station was put into operation in 1958.
In 1966 the General Scheme of Leningrad Sewerage was approved which included, among other things, three big complexes of wastewater treatment facilities.

The first one – Central WWTP – was put into operation in 1978 (stage I). Before that, all city wastewater was discharged to the water bodies almost without any treatment.
The Central WWTP, stage II, was put into operation in 1984, and the Northern WWTP, stage I, – in 1987.
The construction of the South-West WWTP started in 1986.

Contemporary history

In the 1990s, SUE "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg" developed and implemented a novel-for-Russia concept of strategic planning of the public utilities' financial operations and business. Creation of a management system based on the corporate development planning was a crucial step to implementation of this concept in the company.

It is the implementation of the strategic planning concept that ensured sustainable development of SUE "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg". In 1992 the company was able to become self-sufficient and raise the necessary investments for reconstruction and development. In 2004, the St. Petersburg Water and Wastewater Systems Reconstruction and Development Programme for 2004-2011 were worked out. The South-West WWTP was inaugurated on 22 September 2005 in the presence of the President of the Russian Federation V.V. Putin, the President of Finland Tarja Halonen and the Swedish Prime-Minister Göran Persson.

Alongside with the construction of new facilities using the best advanced technologies, wide-scale reconstruction of the existing WWTPs was implemented. By 2006, three "hot spots" in the Baltic Sea catchment basin have been eliminated. The reconstruction of the Central WWTP in 2007 made it possible to meet, and even surpass the HELCOM standards of nutrient concentrations. Following the commissioning of two new sludge incineration plants – at the Northern WWTP and South-West WWTP – in 2007, St. Petersburg became the first megalopolis to fully solve the problem of sewage sludge utilization.

In 2008, Vodokanal St. Petersburg celebrated its 150th anniversary. Start-up of the first section of the Northern Tunnel Collector was one of the most important events of the jubilee year.

In 2009, Vodokanal celebrated 20 year of cooperation with the Ministry of the Environment of Finland. The conference "The Baltic: Common Sea, Common Concern" was devoted to this anniversary.

The official ceremony of removing the last chlorine container from the Northern WTP area was held in June 2009: it symbolized that Vodokanal stopped to use liquid chlorine for water disinfection having substituted it with hazard-free sodium hypochlorite.

In December 2009, the second stage of Northern Tunnel Collector Extension was completed which enabled to reach 91% of wastewater treatment.

In June 2010, one of the biggest plants – Southern WTP started pre-commissioning of its new water treatment block designed for 350,000 m3/day of potable water production (water supply to the city from this block began in January 2011).

In 2010, Vodokanal summarized the results of the pilot project aimed to create a water supply management system and started to implement the system in the southern districts of the city.

By the end of 2010, the next stage of Northern Tunnel Collector Extension has been completed, and the official ceremony of connecting 12 more direct discharges to the Collector was held in January 2011. As a result, the wastewater treatment level in the city reached 93%.

In 2011, Vodokanal could advance wastewater treatment level having re-channeled five direct discharges to Northern Tunnel Collector and closed down seven small WWTPs (the wastewater formerly collected by them was re-channeled to Northern WWTP). The ceremony dedicated to this event was attended by the Governor of St. Petersburg G.S. Poltavchenko.

In 2011, St. Petersburg was finally crossed out from the list of Baltic Sea polluters. Since then the city has fully met the HELCOM recommendations on wastewater treatment quality: phosphorus concentrations in the total wastewater volume discharged in St. Petersburg do not exceed 0.5 mg/l. The official ceremony marking the completion of the Clean Baltic Sea Project was held at Northern WWTP in June in the presence of the President of Finland Tarja Halonen.

In 2011, Vodokanal expanded its biomonitoring system by implementing it at wastewater treatment plants: since the beginning of the year the composition of flue gases at the South-West incineration plant has been monitored by African snails, and since July the effluent quality at South-West treatment plant has been checked by Australian red-claw crayfish.

In 2011, Vodokanal St. Petersburg became one of the finalists for the prestigious award of the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) - Excellence Award-2011.

Since 2011, the International Advanced Water Technologies Centre, a joint project of Vodokanal and Lahti Science and Business Park (Finland), has been working at the premises of SUE "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg".

In 2012, the Youth Environmental Centre of Vodokanal celebrated its 10th anniversary. Over the past years, more than 300 000 children and teens participated in programmes, projects and activities of the Centre.

Since 2012, Vodokanal St. Petersburg has started a new type of activity: construction and operation of snow-melting stations.

In 2012, the next-to-last stage of the Northern Tunnel Collector was completed (the wastewater streams was diverted to the collector and then to Northern WWTP for treatment) which resulted in the closure of five direct discharges and the treatment of as much as 97% of all wastewater.

In autumn 2012, the cooperation between St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region got a new impetus: the joint meeting of the city and region took a decision to establish the Steering Committee of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region in the sphere of social and economic development. In particular, the Committee would deals with the provision of water supply and sewerage services to the fast-growing developments at the border line between the city and the Leningrad Region.

The first result of the joint environmental actions was diversion of wastewater in the town of Sertolovo (in the Leningrad Region) to Northern WWTP (in St. Petersburg). Due to that, the discharge of pollutants into the Lake Razliv could be reduced by 58.8 %.

In 2013, Vodokanal celebrated its 155th anniversary.  Besides, this year was announced the Environmental Protection Year in Russia. The main event of the year took place on Vodokanal’s birthday, 10 October 2013: the large-scale environmental project, construction of Northern Tunnel Collector, was completed in Petersburg. Ten untreated wastewater discharges were closed. Since then, 98.4 % of wastewater has been treated.

In 2013, Vodokanal put three more snow-melting stations in operation. The total number of such stations increased to ten. Snow is melted by the heat of wastewater fed into the melting chambers.

In 2013, Vodokanal launched a new social project: in cooperation with the not-for-profit partnership “Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Centre of Leningrad Region” and 2PR public relations agency, it was saving rare animals of the Baltic Sea Region, ringed seals and grey seals.

In 2014, pre-commissioning of a new 500,000 m3/day first-lift pumping station began at Main WTP. Construction of the first-lift pumping station and new intake facilities was the initial phase of the Main WTP Reconstruction Project.

Within the frame of the project on the closure of the untreated wastewater discharges into the water bodies of St. Petersburg, direct discharges from Petrovskiy Stadium and along Petrogradskaya Embankment were eliminated in 2014. In the same year the construction of sewage collector at Admiralteyskaya Embankment (next to the Bronze Horseman) began.

In April 2015, an important stage of the Neva Untreated Wastewater Discharge Closure Programme the construction of the sewage collector along the part of Admiralteyskaya Embankment from Dvortsovy Proezd to the Senatskaya Square was completed. It made it possible to close six untreated wastewater discharges, equivalent to approx. 1000 m3/day, into the Neva. Alongside with the completion of works at the Senatskaya Square, construction of the sewage network at the Repina Square was started. New sewage network will enable to close the direct discharge to the Fontanka River in Lotsmanskaya Street and to channel wastewater for treatment to the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant. Today, 98.5% of wastewater undergoes treatment in St. Petersburg.

In the same year, a new wastewater treatment facility and water supply plant were set into operation on the Isle of Valaam, thus allowing for efficient treatment of all wastewater and no adverse impact on the Ladoga Lake.

On 6 November 2015, the Exhibition Centre was opened in the presence of St. Petersburg Governor G.S. Poltavchenko and members of St. Petersburg Government to present products, up-to-date technologies and materials of local companies in water supply and wastewater disposal sector. The opening ceremony took place at the Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant in the settlement of Olgino within the frame of the Water Cluster activities. The Water Cluster concept was approved by the meeting of the St. Petersburg Governor’s Investment Council on 6 April 2015. The Water Cluster is established to speed up development and implementation of modern technologies and innovations in water supply and wastewater disposal sector; secure supply orders for the companies of the Cluster in the long run; enjoy the advantages of home industry enterprises, building companies, R&D and educational institutes.

Since the beginning of 2015, the Company has pursued the implementation of the import substitution policy in a consistent manner. During the year, the share of foreign manufacture equipment in the overall purchase amount of Vodokanal reduced from 30% to 1.8%.

In the end of 2015, Vodokanal was given the Russian Federation Government Quality Award 2015 for achievements in the sphere of product and service quality and for implementing highly-efficient methods of quality management. The similar award was given to the Company in 2006.