BEST foot forward

New project will target rising nutrient loads in the Baltic Sea

June 9, 2017

A new Interreg project application submitted by REC Poland has been approved in the second call for submissions. “Better Efficiency for Sewage Treatment in the Baltic Sea” (BEST) was accepted under the “Clear Waters” sub-category of the “Natural Resources” priority area for the Baltic Sea region (2.1).

The bid concept and content were developed by Michal Brennek, in cooperation with the lead partner (City of Helsinki Environment Centre) and other partners, including the John Nurminen Foundation.

Multiple beneficiaries

The BEST project will benefit the environment through concrete investments resulting in load reductions of nutrients and hazardous substances. In addition, between five and ten Polish partners will benefit directly from pilot technical studies. Feasibility studies for pilot investments and the sharing of best practices and knowledge with other actors in the Baltic Sea region will be other positive outcomes of the BEST project. Such activities will facilitate discussion and cooperation between target groups (e.g. industrial companies, municipalities, water utilities and local decision makers) and at multiple levels (local, national, international). Furthermore, a training programme on the importance of the sustainable treatment of hazardous wastewaters and treatment solutions for industrial wastewaters will be included in the programme agenda.

“This project offers us a unique opportunity to focus on a huge environmental problem in the most efficient way,” said proposal developer Michal Brennek. “The Baltic Sea is one of the most polluted seas on the planet, and the pollutants range from World War II-era chemical ammunition to modern industrial and agricultural waste. Huge decreases in nutrient loads in the Baltic states followed in the wake of industrial collapse, and hundreds of waste treatment plants were built in Poland in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s under the EcoConversion Agreement with Sweden, resulting in a rapid drop of nutrient loads delivered to the Baltic. However, as of 2016, nutrient loads are back to the levels not measured in 25 years.”

High national and international relevance

Interreg Baltic Sea Region is co-financing 25 projects, the BEST project being one of the nominated projects that received early “flagship” status during the first stage. The project also supports the objectives of the EU Water Framework Directive to improve the state of local waters and the Baltic Sea. Both the Polish and Finnish ministries of environment — which are also coordinators of the EU SBSR’s “NUTRI” priority policy area — also support the BEST project. In practice, the BEST project will provide feasible solutions for treating challenging industrial wastewaters at municipal treatment plants, thus reducing nutrient loads of phosphorus, nitrogen and other harmful substances in the Baltic Sea.

Solid partnership

The broad project partnership enables the transferability of project results between national and international target groups. The partnership includes utilities and industrial companies from several countries, including Belarus, Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland. Also included in the partnership arrangement are associations of water utilities from the Baltic Sea region, municipal partners (Helsinki, Warsaw), the Gdansk Water Foundation, and the Association of Baltic Sea Cities and Municipalities. Additional support comes from Helcom and local governments. Effectively speaking, the BEST project will be a practical tool through which to implement Helcom goals.

TAGS: Water treatment | Poland | Pollution | BalticSea