Better Efficiency for Sewage Treatment (BEST)

Better Efficiency for Sewage Treatment (BEST)

Source of funding

European Commission

Name of client/donor

Interreg Baltic Sea Region Programme

Overall project value

EUR 317,662


May 2017 – September 2020

Beneficiary countries

Estonia | Finland | Latvia | Lithuania | Poland | Russia

Number of staff


The BEST project concerns the improvement of the quality of the Baltic Sea by increasing the efficiency of sewage treatment plants. The international project involves most of the countries in the Baltic Sea catchment area (Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Russia and Poland).

The project was approved for funding under the Interreg Baltic Sea Region programme and was nominated as a flagship project for the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region's Policy Area “Nutri”.

The Baltic Sea is one of the European water bodies most threatened by eutrophication. During the 20th century, the Baltic Sea changed from being oligotrophic (i.e. having transparent waters) to strongly eutrophic due to the excessive amount of municipal and industrial pollution in the rivers that flow into it. The main causes of eutrophication are nitrogen and phosphorus originating from inadequately treated wastewater in rivers, and from agriculture. Other threats come from hazardous substances, some of them categorised as priority substances in the Water Framework Directive.

Around 17 percent of Europe is located within the Baltic catchment area. However, nearly half of the inhabitants in this catchment area are Polish. The participation of Poland is therefore key to the project's success. An evaluation of the homogeneous parts of the surface water of the Baltic Sea, both transitional and coastal, carried out by the Chief Inspectorate for Environmental Protection in 2016, showed that surface water has a bad or poor ecological status.

The need to reduce pollution in the Baltic Sea and to halt its progressive eutrophication is acknowledged by all the countries in the Baltic catchment area.

The beginning of the process of improving the quality of seawater is to improve the quality of the rivers that feed into the sea by improving the treatment of discharges of municipal sewage, industrial wastewater and storm sewage.

Municipal sewage treatment plants are recognised as the main point sources of the organic substances (nitrogen, phosphorus) and hazardous substances entering the Baltic Sea. Although many cities in the Baltic Sea region have already improved their wastewater management in recent years, many challenges remain.

One of the key challenges is the insufficient monitoring and treatment of industrial wastewater, which is transported via the sewerage system to municipal wastewater treatment plants. Industrial wastewater reduces the efficiency of these wastewater treatment plants, inhibits biological purification processes and contaminates sewage sludge, making it impossible to recycle.

Insufficiently monitored and treated industrial wastewater can even undermine the technological progress that has been achieved in recent years in the treatment of municipal wastewater.

The aim of the project is to develop the more efficient management and pre-treatment of the industrial wastewater that is discharged to municipal wastewater treatment plants. This will improve control and efficiency and reduce the load of organic substances entering the Baltic Sea.

As a result of the BEST project, local water utilities and sewage treatment plants will gather more information about the sources, content and treatment of industrial wastewater. Various industrial facilities will also gain knowledge about how their wastewater affects the treatment processes. They will learn about legal requirements and will be shown practical examples of how and why industrial sewage should receive better pre-treatment in order to ensure both environmental benefits and benefits for the company itself in terms of resource use efficiency and environmental responsibility.

The best available pre-treatment techniques will be presented, along with cooperative practices between industrial companies, wastewater treatment plants and the authorities responsible for making environmental decisions and granting permits.

The project will produce an assessment of the current situation in terms of discharges and the treatment and management of industrial waste in the Baltic Sea region. The partners will jointly present examples of the best available technical solutions (for the monitoring and treatment of industrial wastewater and sewage sludge) and management models.

An educational package and guidelines for the more efficient management of industrial sewage will be created to support institutional capacity building.

  • Identifying the main problems and content of industrial effluents and their possible impacts on treatment processes at municipal wastewater treatment plants.
  • Identifying current practices, challenges and bottlenecks in institutional capacity and stakeholder cooperation in relation to water utilities
  • Developing, demonstrating and evaluating new cooperation, management and working models at local level between the water utility, industrial companies and permitting and monitoring authorities.
  • Testing, implementing and evaluating new cost-efficient technologies for improved treatment processes at municipal wastewater treatment plants and industrial companies.
  • Developing the capacity and know-how of participating institutions (water utilities, industrial companies, municipal and regional authorities) for more efficient process control, management and cooperation, to ensure environmental benefits.
  • Setting up new guidelines for the better management of industrial wastewater treatment at local, national and regional level.
  • Ecological education, capacity building
  • Publication of an educational package and guidelines
  • Facilitation of communication
  • Organisation of workshops, conferences and study visits
  • Information gathering