Vodokanal shared its successful experience of public-private partnership projects implementation


F.V. Karmazinov, Director General of the State Unitary Enterprise “Vodokanal of St.Petersburg”, participated in the meeting of the Working Group on the Environment Protection of the BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries, which took place on 7-8 April at the Vodokanal of St.Petersburg premises.

On April 8th F.V. Karmazinov made presentation “Vodokanal of St.Petersburg as an Example of International Public-Private Partnership” during the BRICS green technology platform discussion.

F.V. Karmazinov noted that 98.5% of wastewater is treated in St.Petersburg. Today St.Petersburg is one of the few Baltic Sea region cities, which fully complies with the recommendations of the Helsinki Commission for the Baltic Sea Protection (HELCOM). Enhanced nitrogen and phosphorus removal technologies are implemented at all wastewater treatment plants of the city. These nutrients stimulate the growth of blue-green algae and are a major threat to the health of our sea.

There are two key areas of Vodokanal and HELCOM cooperation. First are trainings and best practices and knowledge exchange. Second is funds and investments attraction for the environmental projects implementation.

F.V. Karmazinov said: “That progression is not occasional. International financial institutions investment resources employment is not just fundraising, but also the technology exchange and, above all, implementation of advanced experience and modern principles of the operational management. People eventually saw that we can also organize activity according to the European standards and become an example for many sector companies, and not just domestic. But we are all aware that it is extremely important to attract investments from extra-budgetary sources in terms of lack of Vodokanal own investment opportunities and limited budget funding”.

Vodokanal of St.Petersburg in the early 90s of the last century initiated active development of investments attraction mechanisms for financing of projects that are of foremost importance for consumers’ provision with quality water supply and sanitation services.

Having accumulated the necessary experience, SUE “Vodokanal of St.Petersburg” transferred to new forms of interaction between the public and private sectors for investment and integrated development of the public services sector, especially in terms of the major projects implementation. Public-private partnership (PPP) became an additional financing tool for key projects.

The most striking example of such international cooperation was the “Completion of the South-West Wastewater Treatment Plant in St. Petersburg” (SWWTP) project.

A conceptually new for the Russia public-private partnership scheme was developed within the project. This allowed to combine 15 different funding sources, including own company funds, the city budget, as well as funds of another 13 donors, including 5 major international lenders and 4 organizations that provided free technical assistance.

The total amount of the SWWTP project attracted investment, including construction of a sludge incineration plant, was 181.4 million Euro. This amount comprises borrowings, free technical assistance and company own funds.

As a result, wastewater treatment plant that provides treatment of 330 thousand cubic meters of wastewater per day in accordance with the most stringent Russian and international requirements was put in operation and sludge incineration plant was constructed.

Similar sludge incineration plant was built at the Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant also due to loans and European grants.

Currently 3 sludge incineration plants (the third at the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant on the Belyy Island) are operated in St.Petersburg, which enables solution of another important environmental challenge, namely disposal of all sewage sludge of St.Petersburg.

The successful experience of public-private partnership has also been applied in the framework of the “Closure of untreated wastewater discharges into water bodies of St.Petersburg” programme. Such tasks as the Northern Tunnel Collector project completion and the reconstruction of the Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant (first stage) have been implemented.

Reconstruction and modernization of small wastewater treatment plants of St. Petersburg, being another important Vodokanal project, has also been completed with the financial support of international lenders and grants. This project included reconstruction and modernization of 6 small WWTPs and decommissioning of 4 small WWTPs with wastewater transporting to the Northern WWTP.

Concluding the report, F.V. Karmazinov noted that Vodokanal will continue activity towards improvement of the Neva River and the Gulf of Finland environmental status. But fruitful international partnerships establishment requires exchange of technologies and, above all, the use of advanced experience. Unfortunately, one of the today major challenges in water and wastewater industry specialists training remains to be lack of information regarding sector new developing and applying technologies. Moreover, today there is no single consolidating training centre for water sector specialists in Russia.

The issue solution is the Water Academy, which began its work on September 17, 2015 in the pilot project mode within the premises of the Information and Training Centre of Vodokanal of St.Petersburg. Water Academy represents the educational segment of the St.Petersburg Water Cluster. Water Academy in the near future should be a unifying framework for the sector qualified specialists training, while accumulating experience, innovative solutions and scientific knowledge.

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