Twenty-five years of cooperation for the good of the Baltic


The cooperation between Vodokanal and European financial institutions aimed at the protection and rehabilitation of the Baltic Sea has been underway for 25 years. Our western neighbours consider Vodokanal to be a reliable and professional partner.

In late August this year, SUE "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg" hosted the workshop on “Twenty-five years of cooperation between Vodokanal and European financial institutions in the field of environmental enhancement”.

The workshop participants were: Timo Mäkelä (in the recent past – Director at the DG Environment of the European Commission), Jakko Henttonen (NDEP (Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership) Fund Manager), Klaus Sørensen (former Consul General of Denmark in St. Petersburg), Paavo Lipponen (former Finnish Prime-Minister), Alistair Clark (Chairman of the Board of NDEP Fund and Managing Director of the EBRD Environment and Sustainability Department), Felix V. Karmazinov, Director General of SUE "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg", and others.

In his opening speech at the jubilee workshop the Director General of SUE "Vodokanal of St. Petersburg" Felix V. Karmazinov pointed out: “Our joint activity, preservation of the Baltic Sea, is subject to neither political nor economic crises. After all, there have been many different crises over the 25 years. However, we have worked and are working to preserve the Baltic Sea for future generations. I would like to emphasize once again: the solving of environmental tasks is the thing that can unite people of different countries and different views. We live on the same planet, and have a common sea on this planet”.

Timo Mäkelä mentioned the features of Vodokanal St. Petersburg that distinguish this company from other organizations in the world. They are, in his opinion, professional approach to work, stability, reliability and continuity. Bjorn Kavalkov-Halvarsson, Acting Consul General of Sweden in St. Petersburg, noted that every time successful implementation of environmental projects is discussed in Sweden, the achievements of Vodokanal St. Petersburg are recalled.

Over the last decade, Vodokanal has implemented large-scale projects aimed to reduce the discharge of untreated wastewater and to improve wastewater treatment technologies. At present, 98.5 % of wastewater is treated in St. Petersburg. Enhanced phosphorus and nitrogen removal technologies are used at all Vodokanal’s wastewater treatment plants. As a result, Petersburg fully meets the HELCOM (the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission) Recommendations: phosphorus concentrations in the treated effluent do not exceed 0.5 mg/l, and nitrogen concentrations – 10 mg/l.

Intensive strategic cooperation between Vodokanal and the adjacent countries started in the early 1990s, when Russia and Finland went ahead with cooperative work to carry out joint environmental projects. At that moment St. Petersburg was on the list of the main Baltic Sea polluters: less than two thirds of total wastewater was treated, the treatment technologies being inadequate.

In January 1992, Russia and Finland signed an intergovernmental agreement governing the cross-border cooperation. Under the Agreement joint projects were implemented based on the Baltic Sea Environmental Protection Program approved by the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission.

The Ministry of Environment of Finland proposed Helsinki Water to start work with Vodokanal St. Petersburg within the framework of bilateral cooperation. It was primarily aimed at exchanging experts, technical trainings, workshops and meetings on management, financial and investment system development, issues of interaction and maintenance of water and sewerage networks.

The Ministry of Environment of Finland helped   engage the Danish Environmental Protection Agency in financing the projects. Co-financing made it possible to carry out projects on underground system reconstruction in the historical part of St. Petersburg using no dig technologies.

In 1997, Vodokanal St. Petersburg signed a long-term loan agreement with the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development. One of the terms of the agreement was introduction and use of a fundamentally new approach to long-term planning of the corporate company development.

The experience gained by Vodokanal while working with EBRD was then successfully used in cooperation with other foreign banks that also took part in financing Vodokanal projects.

South-West Wastewater Treatment Plant was constructed within the framework of public private partnership. The official opening ceremony in 2005 was attended by President of the Russian Federation Vladimir Putin, President of Finland Tarja Halonen and Prime-Minister of Sweden Jöran Persson. South-West WWTP construction became the largest environmental project.

In 2007, the first stage of the Russian-Finnish environmental project “Clean Baltic Sea” was completed at the Central WWTP. The project was focused on implementing the technology of the enhanced nutrients (phosphorus and nitrogen) removal from wastewater. In 2011, a festive event took place at the Central WWTP with the participation of President of Finland Tarja Halonen; the ceremony marked the fulfillment by St.Petersburg of the recommendations of Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission in terms of nutrients removal from wastewater.

The European partners also took part in the construction of the sludge incineration plants: such plants were put into operation at Northern WWTP and SWTP in  2007.

One more example of the successful long-term international cooperation is the Neva Untreated Wastewater Discharges Closure Program.   

In the frames of the Program, the biggest environmental project - the Northern Tunnel Collector Construction Project - was implemented in October 2013. The Project completion resulted in closure of 76 untreated wastewater discharges with the total amount of 334,000 m3/day to ensure treatment of   98.4% of wastewater.  Besides, the modernization of the biggest wastewater treatment plants (Central and Northern) is being implemented under the Program. For the project purposes, loan funds were obtained from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, Nordic Investment Bank, European Investment Bank, as well as non-refundable assistance from Northern Environment Environmental Partnership Fund, the Ministry of the Environment of Finland, SIDA, EBRD Shareholder Special Fund and John Nurminen Foundation. Besides, funds from the budget of the Russian Federation and Vodokanal own funds were used for financing the program.

From 2010 to 2014, the reconstruction and modernization of small wastewater treatment plants of St.Petersburg was conducted. The project was implemented using loan funds from NEFCO and grants from the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership and the Ministry of the Environment of Finland. Besides, Vodokanal own funds were used in financing the Program. Wastewater treatment plants of Kolpino, Pushkin, Kronstadt and Pontonny were reconstructed and modernized in the frames of the project. 

The results obtained in St.Petersburg in the sphere if wastewater treatment  are highly appreciated by European experts. Tarja Halonen (President of Finland in 2002 – 2012) stated the following during one of her visits to Russia: “Improvements in St.Petersburg wastewater treatment is the world-class achievement”.  The Chairman of the Finnish Public Council for the Gulf of Finland Year Matti Vanhanen attended the festival in St.Petersburg last year and mentioned that the condition of the Gulf of Finland, especially in its eastern part, became much better after wastewater treatment measures had been taken in St.Petersburg. In 2015, Marjukka Porvari from the John Nurminen Foundation said in her speech at the round table at Nevsky International Ecological Congress: “Water in the Gulf of Finland near my country house has never been as good as now, thanks to the works conducted here, in St.Petersburg.”

The geography of Vodokanal’s international cooperation is broad: it is Finland, Denmark, Sweden, Norway, Germany, France, Great Britain. 

25-year experience of cooperation between Vodokanal St.Petersburg and the European partners proves that joining efforts allows solving even most difficult environmental problems successfully. 

Вернуться назад