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, non conventional 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).
CCB cooperates with the water working group in the European Environmental Bureau (EEB). The #ProtectWater campaign is one of the positive results achieved together.
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.
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.
In 2020, CCB organized the 1st edition of River University, a 5-days event where different stakeholders from all Baltic Sea countries were invited to share experiences and expertises on how to protect and restore rivers and lakes across the region. Due to Covid-19 pandemic the event, which was supposed to be held in Poland, took place online. In the upcoming years the event will be organized in other countries in the BSR.
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.
In April 2021, we have been running a joint social media campaign on climate change and its effects on rivers basins in the Baltic Sea Region. The report “Flood Risks Management in the Baltic Sea Region” (EN – RU), promoted during the campaign, gives an overview of existing Flood Risk Management Plans and approaches in the Baltic countries and includes proposals for integrated Flood Risk Management Plans, development of national adaptation measures coordinated by basins and proposals for public participation .
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 river basin and wastewater management
- Public campaign “Stop E40”
- Interactive map of public river monitoring
- Fundacja Mare – o nas
- Report: “Flood Risks Management in the Baltic Sea Region” (CCB, Friends of the Baltic, 2021)
- River Watch. The collection of the methodological materials (CCB, 2020)
- Preliminary map “Potential Dam-barrier objects for removal to support wild salmonid populations in Baltic Sea Region rivers” (CCB, 2019)
- Report: “Concept Best Available Technologies & Techniques: Bulk Fertilizer Handling” (CCB, 2019)
- 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 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Andre Zahharov||Estonian Green Movement||Estoniaemail@example.com|
|Andris Urtans||North Vidzeme Biosphere Reserve||Latvia||+371 407 14 firstname.lastname@example.org|
|Antanas Kontautas||Lithuanian Green Movement/ Environmental club Zvejone||Lithuaniaemail@example.com|
|Artur Furdyna||Friends of the Rivers of Ina and Gowienica Association - TPRIiG||Polandfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Elita Kalnina||Environmental Protection Club/VAK||Latvia||+371 7 226 email@example.com|
|Ewa Lés||CCB WA River Basin and Wastewater Management Leader||Polandfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Gunnar Norén||Senior Advisor||Sweden||+46 70-560 53 email@example.com|
|Jurate Morkvenaite Paulauskiene||Lithuanian Green Movement/ Environmental club Zvejone||Lithuania||+370 685 725 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|
|Mia Svedäng||Swedish Society for Nature Conservation||Swedenemail@example.com|
|Nina Palutskaya||Neman Environment Group||Belarusfirstname.lastname@example.org|
|Olga Senova||Friends of the Baltic||Russia||+7 812 428 06 email@example.com|
|Robertas Staponkus||Lithuanian Fund for Nature||Lithuania||+370 6 9846 firstname.lastname@example.org|