Russia and Finland are in search of the best available technologies


On 25 November the Water Academy held a seminar "The transition to the principles of BAT. Establishment of the automatic control system at discharge and emission sources. Modern approaches to the selection of technological solutions for surface runoff treatment” organized by the International Advanced Water Technologies Center. Petersburg Vodokanal and colleagues from Europe examined advantages and challenges of meeting new standards, taking into account the capacity of treatment facilities.

In 2019, changes to the environmental legislation came into force and established the obligation on the phased implementation of BAT for the category I negative impact facilities. More than 130 participants from Russia and Finland - representatives of water utilities, research institutes, industrial enterprises and the Committee for Nature Management, Environmental Protection and Environmental Safety - gathered to discuss issues arising from the transition to the best available technologies (BAT) in water and wastewater sector. Specialists examined the requirements and problems of introducing automatic control systems for discharges and emissions of pollutants, as well as the use of BAT for the treatment of surface wastewater, production of industrial soil and the use of innovative equipment.

The moderator of the seminar, Director of the Department of Analysis and Technological Development of Water Supply and Wastewater Disposal Systems SUE “Vodokanal of St. Petersburg” O.N. Rublevskaya noted: “In light of the issued normative acts, it is clear that not only the process of obtaining environmental permits is very complicated, but also a number of new requirements defined in those normative acts already need detailed elaboration, updating or clarification. The ITS-10-2015 Information and Technical Handbook “Wastewater Treatment Using Centralized Drainage Systems of Settlements, Urban Districts” requires updating, both in terms of clarifying a number of technological indicators and requirements to BAT used for the treatment of surface runoff in settlements and urban districts.  A lot of questions arise”.

I.V. Alekseeva, Director of the Department of Environmental Protection of SUE “Vodokanal of St. Petersburg”, spoke in detail about the basic principles for introducing BAT, the procedure for obtaining environmental permits and then V.L.Zhirnova, chief specialist in regulatory and analytical work of the Legal Department of the company, gave the legal assessment of the provisions governing the process of transition to BAT and the problems faced by specialists at this stage.

The changes that came into force on 1 January 2019, in addition to the benefits for both water utilities and water customers, triggered  a number of practical problems, for instance, the effective date (1 January 2017) of the norm on the application of increasing coefficients when calculating fees for negative environmental impacts did not match the deadline for vodokanals on obtaining environmental permits that regulate technological standards for 1st category facilities; the other problems are the lack of well-defined regulatory framework; too short time frames (up to 7 years) for implementation of environmental efficiency programs and environmental action plans. The speakers noted that in the conditions of St. Petersburg it would be impossible to complete the comprehensive reconstruction and technical re-equipment of all 1st category facilities due to technical and economic reasons - there are six such facilities in SUE “Vodokanal of St. Petersburg” (CWWTP, NWWTP, SWTP, WWTPs in Pushkin, Kolpino, Petrodvorets). These problems can be solved by discussing them within the industry community, sending written proposals to state authorities, participation of the company specialists in legislation making at the regional and federal levels.

The representative of the Lahti Regional Development Center LADEC (Finland) and the Law and Water environmental consultant, Nina Vieno (Finland), spoke about the legal framework of BAT in the European Union and Finland. In Finland, obtaining of permits by industrial enterprises is subject to BAT. This process is regulated by the European Union Industrial Emissions Directive (IED, 2010/75 / EU). BAT reference documentation is developed under this Directive. In Finland, environmental permits are obtained by municipal wastewater treatment plants (WWTP), which serve more than 100 residents. At the same time, the EU BAT background documentation for urban WWTPs does not exist. For this reason, Finland has developed its own guidelines, which are only of advisory nature. These guidelines are designed for regulatory authorities, water companies that want to obtain a permit, as well as for wastewater treatment facility designers. Additional recommendations are also provided by the Helsinki Commission for the Protection of the Baltic Sea Region (HELCOM).