The Baltic Sea challenges discussed at Vodokanal

23.10.2014

On 23-24 October, a plenary session of the St. Petersburg Initiative chaired by Nuritdin Inamov, Director of the Russian Ministry of Environment International Cooperation Department, was held at the premises of Vodokanal St. Petersburg.

The St. Petersburg Initiative is a platform for dialog between the government, business and society where they can discuss specific ideas for the purpose of preserving the Baltic Sea environment.

The St. Petersburg Initiative was launched at the Baltic Sea Forum in Petersburg in April 2013 and approved by the participants, heads of Baltic states. It aims, among other thing, at the development of a regulatory legal framework to encourage active support of global environmental initiatives by the business community.

At the plenary session of the St. Petersburg Initiative, the Director General of Vodokanal St. Petersburg Felix V. Karmazinov told about the large-scale project implemented to mitigate negative impacts on the integrated water system “Lake Ladoga – Lake Onega – the River Neva – Gulf of Finland”.

In recent years, much was done in Petersburg to preserve the Baltic Sea.  A year ago, a huge environmental project, the Northern Tunnel Collector Construction in Petersburg, was completed, with the wastewater treatment level of 98.4 % achieved. The target set in the City Water Supply and Wastewater Disposal Master Plan adopted in Petersburg is to reach 100 % of wastewater treatment (including the treatment of surface run-off: rainwater and snowmelt).

Furthermore, over the recent years Petersburg has fully complied with the HELCOM (Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission) Recommendations on phosphorus and nitrogen concentrations in the effluent discharged.

Generally, the achievements of Petersburg are highly appraised by international, including Finnish, experts. In particular, it was expressed at a recent meeting of Public Councils from three states, Russia, Finland and Estonia, dedicated to the Gulf of Finland Year and held in Petersburg last September. At the meeting of the St. Petersburg Initiative, the welcome word of the HELCOM Executive Secretary Monika Stankiewicz was read out where she mentioned significant progress of St. Petersburg in wastewater treatment.

However, it is not possible to achieve sustainable improvement of the Gulf of Finland and Baltic Sea environment only focusing on wastewater treatment within Petersburg. Water has no borders, and we should mitigate negative impacts on the whole integrated water system in the North-West Region including Lake Onega, Lake Ilmen, Lake Ladoga and the Neva. Otherwise, the pollutants that get into water bodies on the way to Petersburg may nullify all the improvements achieved by our city.

It is these considerations that underlay the commitments taken by Vodokanal St. Petersburg in the framework of the St. Petersburg Initiative.

One of the commitments is to participate in the identification of sources of negative impact on water bodies, i.e. the places where:

- municipal sewage is not properly treated,

- industrial wastewaters are discharged untreated,

- manure from animal and poultry farms is not treated effectively.

The results of such investigation will be used to identify the first-priority areas to be improved in the first turn and to develop recommendations on efficient solutions to the existing problems.

Felix V. Karmazinov emphasized that today there are many engineering solutions to these problems. Vodokanal is compiling a list of best available technologies for municipal sewage treatment, also in small communities. The choice of engineering solutions depends on required capacity of treatment plants, on the effect to be achieved in each specific case, etc.

Reconstruction of wastewater treatment plant on Valaam Island is one example of Vodokanal participation in the solving of environmental problems faced be the neighboring regions.

Furthermore, industrial wastewater issue should be addressed to ensure further improvement of the Baltic Sea environment. The fact is, as Vodokanal St. Petersburg has often pointed out, that the municipal treatment plants are not designed to remove specific industrial pollutants from wastewater (such pollutants should be removed before discharge into the centralized sewerage). By now, Vodokanal has developed a new approach to monitor the composition of industrial wastewater discharged into the sewerage. This approach envisages, on the one hand, identification of industrial pollution sources and, on the other hand, targeted support to industrial "producers” of specific pollutants. It means, in particular, assistance to companies in developing action plans to reduce discharge of pollutants, e.g. in the selection of optimal local treatment technologies.

Please, visit www.spbinitiative.ru for more information on the St. Petersburg Initiative.

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