Environmental Protection Year passes the baton to Gulf of Finland Year

13.12.2013

On Friday, 13 December, the Public Council Meeting “Gulf of Finland Year 2014” took place on the premises of St.Petersburg Vodokanal. The Public Council participants discussed proposals about the Gulf of Finland Year to be held in St.Petersburg and Leningrad Region and summarized the results of the Environmental Protection Year.

Today, the major environmental problems of the Gulf of Finland are water pollution resulting from discharges of industrial, municipal and agricultural wastewater; contamination of the coastal territories; increased navigation intensity. By the decision of three counties - Russia, Finland and Estonia – the year of 2014 will be the Gulf of Finland Year. The tripartite cooperation between Russia, Estonia and Finland aimed at the protection of the marine environment of the Gulf of Finland started in 1992 году. In practice, however, the Gulf of Finland Year was conducted for the first time in 1960es; it occurred for the second time in 1996 in all the three countries at ministerial level.    

The initiative to organize a new Gulf of Finland Year in 2014 was expressed by both public officials and the scientific community.   

Important solutions related to arranging the Gulf of Finland Year have already been made at government level. The steering committee has been established by order of the Ministry of the natural resources and ecology of the Russian Federation. On the part of Russia, implementation of the Gulf of Finland Year is under patronage of Vladimir V.Putin, the President of the Russian Federation. On the part of Finland, the project is coordinated by Sauli Väinämö Niinistö, the President of the Republic of Finland; and on the part of Estonia –  Toomas Hendrik Ilves, the President of the Republic of Estonia.   A plan of official activities has already been prepared, but there is still time for reviewing public initiatives.   

The Public Council of the Gulf of Finland Year 2014 was established in March 2013, in St. Petersburg.   The co-chairpersons of the Public Council are G.S.Poltavchenko, the Governor of St. Petersburg and A.Y.Drozdenko, the Governor the Leningrad Region, who take part in the meeting today. The members of the Council are V.A. Gergiev, the Art Director of Mariinsky Theatre; V.A. Gusev, the Director of the State Russian Museum; M.B.Piotrovsky, the Director of the State Hermitage Museum; V.A.Rumyantsev, the Director of the Institute of Limnology, the Russian Academy of Sciences; L.D.Fomicheva, the Chairperson of the Union of Journalists of St.Petersburg and Leningrad Region; F.V.Karmazinov, the Director General of SUE “Vodokanal of St.Petersburg”; representatives of industrial companies, public organizations, executive and legislative authorities, etc.      

The Governor of St. Petersburg underlined the following tasks among those which are to be solved in the frames of the Gulf of Finland Year: it is very important to open beaches in Kurortny district, put numerous water bodies in order, classify them and determine pollution sources. Besides, the Governor of St.Petersburg Mr.Poltavchenko noted the following: “It is of crucial importance for us to make the Gulf of Finland Year a major event from which all spheres of the city living will benefit; we would like our museums, art galleries and creative unions to join us.” Mr.Poltavchenko proposed to organize the common holiday in St.Petersburg and Leningrad Region in 2014. The Governor of the Leningrad Region Mr.Drozdenko  favoured this idea.   

During this year announced the Environmental Protection Year in Russia, a lot has been down in St.Petersburg. First of all, thanks to the completion of the Northern Tunnel Collector, 76 untreated wastewater discharges were closed, thus relieving the Neva from 122 million mᵌ of dirt per year. As a result, starting from 10 October, 98.4% of wastewater have been treated in our city.  

Recently, the city government has adopted St.Petersburg water supply and wastewater disposal systems development plan for the period up to 2025. The plan specifies new objectives to meet making the water environment of the Neva and Gulf of Finland clean.   Vodokanal has a target to treat   100% of wastewater. For this purpose, the existing untreated wastewater discharges into the Okhta and Karpovka rivers, along Admiralteiskaya embankment, etc. shall be closed. “The major task remains the same, it is to make the water environment of the Neva and the Gulf of Finland (that is the whole Baltic Sea – common home for us, our neighbors and all the Baltic countries) clean”, - Governor Poltavchenko said.       

In line with the Tunnel Collector construction, in 2013, Vodokanal implemented a number of other environmental projects including construction and operation of permanent snow-melting units. This year, 10 snow-melting units located in different city may accept snow. Vodokanal’s participation in rescuing baby mammals (seals and Baltic ringed seals) gained great public response. The mammals rehabilitation centre was opened at the site of Vodokanal wastewater treatment plant.   Vodokanal’s partners under this project are the Public Relations Agency “2PR” and Vyacheslav Alexeev and Elena Andrievskaya, experts of NPP Marine Mammal Rehabilitation Centre of the Leningrad Region. 

Five animals (two Baltic grey seals and three Ladoga ringed seals) went through rehabilitation and were released.  

During the year, Vodokanal’s Youth Environmental Centre hold specialized environmental interactive activities and projects designed for pupils of different age (for example, “Water Olympic Games”, “ECOvision”). To attract more active internet users, a website focused on careful water use da-voda.com was established. In 2013, a section “Environmental Protection Year” (2013.da-voda.com) was opened, the content of which was updated daily. 

In 2014, Vodokanal will continue its work focused on protecting the water area of the Gulf of Finland and the Baltic Sea as a whole.

Press-release

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