River Basin and Wastewater Management
Most of the water quality problems in the Baltic Sea originate upstream from the thousands of water ways in the catchment area. Some 25% of the nutrient load in the Baltic Sea comes from waste water and upstream sources of pollution – not only from farms, but also from households and ports. According to CCB´s estimates potential losses from 22 million tons of fertilisers handled in the Baltic ports annually may account up to several thousand tons of directly bioavailable nitrogen and phosphorus.
As other point sources for nutrients, nonconventional animal husbandry is not properly regulated at EU or Baltic level, both in terms of nutrient losses management, as well as animal welfare. Meanwhile, on the BSR level potential environmental impacts are significant, as e.g. in Sweden number of horses is higher than dairy cattle, in Finland fur production generates waterborne phosphorus and nitrogen inputs comparable to fish-farming, and mink fur production has impacts that are up to 28 higher than textiles, including climate change, eutrophication and toxic emissions.
Significant gaps were identified in joint management of transboundary basins and in addition, 3 major transboundary Baltic river basins – Daugava (Russia/Belarus/Latvia), Nemunas (Russia/Belarus/Lithuania/Poland) and Vistula (Ukraine/Poland/Belarus) – jointly discharging 30% of all nutrient load to the sea, still lack efficient joint basin management that hampers solving common challenges, e.g. floods protection, conservation of migratory species or reduction of pollution inputs. Cross-border public participation in joint water management, addressing those challenges from the civil society perspective, can build a ground for potential inter-governmental dialogue and for establishing joint management bodies.
We aim at reaching GES (Good Environmental/Ecological Status) of rivers draining to the Baltic Sea as having an immense importance for reducing pollutions inputs, as well as for conservation of biodiversity. We want to ensure a good supply of clean drinking water to all inhabitants in the Baltic Sea Region and to develop systems for an ecologically sustainable production and handling of waste water.
How is CCB working with this issue?
CCB promotes the full implementation of the HELCOM recommendations for small to medium sized sources of wastewater, related to municipal wastewater treatment and on-site wastewater treatment of single-family homes, small businesses and settlements. CCB re-enforced its activities to focus on integrated river basin management and EU Water Framework Directive (WFD) and EU Marine Strategy Framework Directive (MSFD), as well as the Baltic Sea Action Plan (BSAP) to reach Good Environmental/Ecological Status (GES).
As major Baltic river catchment (e.g. Vistula, Nemunas, Daugava, Odra, Narva, Neva and Tornio) are transboundary and in many cases start from upstream non-EU states (Russia, Belarus and Ukraine) it is fundamental a joint management of transboundary basins both between Member States and even more – with third countries. CCB works with establishment of a joint transboundary Public Advisory River Teams (PART) in order to:
- facilitate engagement of public and civil society into decision making related to water management issues;
- enhance capacities of public River-Watch monitoring practices to provide data and information that can be used for management purposes;
- develop recommendations and proposals regarding state of abiotic and biotic components of river basins.
CCB´s interactive map of public river monitoring – www.watercontrol.by – has been further developed to support and visualize the results of public monitoring of water quality in wells and to detect hot spots of agricultural pollution.
A draft report, including a map, of potential sources of nutrient inputs from ports handling fertilisers in the Baltic Sea was further updated. The aim of the new report “Concept Best Available Technologies & Techniques: Bulk Fertilizer Handling” is to further the necessary discussion for port improvements for handling fertilizers in Baltic Sea ports. To that intention, CCB encourages industry development of best practices in an open innovation setting, with learning shared among peer organizations.
Moreover, CCB undertakes River Watch programme – started in 1995 – to promote the development of Sustainable River Basin Management Plans including environmental education, school projects and public awareness in all countries of the Baltic Sea Region.
What can the countries do together?
Joint action should focus on the application of sustainable, ecologically-oriented solutions for wastewater treatment, with a high degree of nutrient recycling.
What can each country do?
- Develop national programmes for the implementation of the HELCOM agreement on wastewater management and water savings as the saving of water instead of wasting it is the most effective way to avoid water pollution problems;
- Promote the use of sustainable wastewater technologies, including nutrient recycling approaches that are particularly suitable for the treatment of wastewater from small to medium sized sources.
What can you do?
- Be aware in your everyday life of the need to save water and make sure you save as much water as possible;
- If it is feasible then you can introduce new toilet system in your home or at your workplace that includes direct nutrient recycling to farmland;
- You can also try to convince your municipality of the importance of eco-technological solution, including the use of natural systems e.g. constructed wetlands.
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Relevant links to international NGOs working on water protection in agriculture
WWF – worldwildlife.org
- HELCOM Assessment on maritime activities in the Baltic Sea 2018 (HELCOM, 2018)
- “Dry bulk cargo shipping – An overlooked threat to the marine environment?” (Study published on Marine Pollution Bulletin, 15 September 2016)
|Aija Caune||Environmental Protection Club/VAK||Latvia||+371 6 266 email@example.com|
|Andre Zahharov||Estonian Green Movement||Estoniafirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Andris Urtans||North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve||Latvia||+371 407 14 email@example.com|
|Antanas Kontautas||Lithuanian Green Movement/ Environmental club Zvejone||Lithuaniafirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Elita Kalnina||Environmental Protection Club/VAK||Latvia||+371 7 226 email@example.com|
|Gunnar Norén||Senior Advisor||Sweden||+46 70-560 53 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Jurate Morkvenaite Paulauskiene||Lithuanian Green Movement/ Environmental club Zvejone||Lithuania||+370 685 725 email@example.com|
|Lennart Gladh||Senior Advisor||Sweden||+46 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Maret Merisaar||Estonian Water Association||Estonia||+372 email@example.com|
|Maria Staniszewska||Polish Ecological Club / PKE||Poland||+48 32 231 85 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Nina Palutskaya||Neman Environment Group||Belarusemail@example.com|
|Olga Senova||Friends of the Baltic||Russia||+7 812 428 06 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Robertas Staponkus||Lithuanian Fund for Nature||Lithuania||+370 6 9846 email@example.com|