Tuesday, October 29, 2013

PRESTO facilitates cooperation between the German and Belarusian Water Associations

On 15-16 October 2013 the delegation from Belarusian Water and Wastewater Association (AQUABEL) paid a visit to the German Association for Water, Wastewater and Waste (DWA) located in so called “Water House” in Hennef, Germany. The aim of the visit was to discuss the possibilities of future cooperation between Associations in the field of water management. Meeting was organized by the Union of the Baltic Cities and Technical University of Berlin in the framework of the PRESTO project (Project on Reduction of the Eutrophication of the Baltic Sea Today).

In the picture from left: Ruediger Heidebrecht (DWA), Matthias Barjenbruch (TUB), Oleg Gustcha (AQUABEL), Johannes Lohaus (EWA), Ilja Golovnev (Vitebsk), Agnieszka Ilola (UBC), Pekka Salminen (UBC)

“Every action involving water management requires effective cooperation between multiple actors whether at the local or international scale. DWA recognize this need and since 60 years facilitates the dialogue between water experts, research institutions and industry on national and international level. We also support our members with most efficient and cost-effective solutions in water technology. Great ideas have a very long life in the work of Association” says Mr Rüdiger Heidebrecht, Head of Department Training and International Cooperation of DWA.

The DWA is a politically and economically independent Association that works to promote research and development of water sector in Germany and on international arena. It closely cooperates with International Water Association (IWA), European Water Association (EWA) and numerous national water associations worldwide.
Visiting DWA library

Amongst a membership of approximately 14,000, there are municipalities, institutes of higher education, engineers, public authorities and companies. The number of members makes the DWA one of the largest organisation in this field in Europe, and its special expertise and competence give it a prominent place in standardization, professional training and public information in Europe. The DWA maintains a special library at its head office in Hennef with the 9,500 specialist books, 90 journals, papers from German and international institutes of higher education that are available to public. DWA is also providing a worldwide specialist advice with the build-up of national water associations and runs annually numbers of trainings and workshops for international experts. 

The Belarusian Water and Wastewater Association “AQUABEL” gathers around 30 active members consisting of water and wastewater companies. Association was established in 1992 and creates a platform for exchange of experience, information and best practices in the field of water management in Belarus. The main objective of the Association is to bring together water professionals and to promote the research and technology development through trainings, workshops and site visits.  Among others, AQUABEL contribute to the policy development and implementation of public policies in the field of water management and the protection of the water environment.

Recently the AQUABEL has been reinforced when the new executive director was nominated and strategic plan is under development. The Association aims at strengthening international cooperation and so far has been actively collaborating with Russia, Ukraine and Kazachstan. Recently, they are also interested in establishing cooperation with German Water Association and European Water Association. 

During the meeting the topics of establishing and operation of water association, standardization principle, water tariffs and charges regulation, training materials and e-learning, were discussed. Both Associations expressed their sincere will and interest in further cooperation especially in the field of preparation of trainings for wastewater experts and professionals. The representatives were invited to participate in the pilot course on modern wastewater treatment for Belarusian Universities and technology experts that is organized by the PRESTO project on 4-6.12.2013 in Minsk, Belarus.

Text: Agnieszka Ilola

Friday, October 18, 2013

CIVITAS Forum 2013 had strong representation from the Baltic Sea Region

The biggest annual event for clean and sustainable urban transport, the CIVITAS Forum Conference, took place on 30 September - 2 October in Brest, France. The conference gathered together cities from all over Europe and further, active in transforming their transport systems more sustainable. Besides  hearing best practices from forerunner cities, ranging from new kind of ICT solutions to parking strategies, the next call for CIVITAS 2020 was announced to open with significant funds in September 2014.
The CIVITAS DYN@MO stand at the CIVITAS Forum

Our region was well represented in the conference, at least by Polish, Danish, Swedish, Finnish, Estonian and Lithuanian cities, as well as UBC. This shows that there is strong and growing interest towards sustainable urban mobility issues. But why so few cities from our region have benefited from the CIVITAS funding? Participating in such a big project proposal takes some resources but being part of a CIVITAS demonstration project can truly take a city's urban mobility to the next level, so why not give it a go next time there is a chance?

Sustainable Urban Mobility Plans (SUMPs) are one of the key topics in the CIVITAS Programme, and several presentations in the CIVITAS forum showed that they are here to stay. SUMPs have not necessarily gained ground in the Baltic Sea Region in the same way as in many other European countries. UBC EnvCom is supporting its member cities by being involved in many projects that encourage cities to take up sustainable urban mobility planning and develop SUMPs.

One of these projects is CIVITAS DYN@MO in which a Baltic Sea Region Competence centre for SUMPs has been established. An online platform for the centre will be published by the end of the year. The competence centre  will support cities to develop their SUMPs by providing information, support, exchange of experience and training. We hope to collect good practices from our member cities across the region and have you actively participate in our events. Stay tuned for more information!

The material from the CIVITAS Forum Conference is available on the CIVITAS website.

Text: Kirsi-Marja Lonkila

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

PURE actions for Baltic Sea Protection -Reducing phosphorous load from municipal waste waters

Eutrophication is the major environmental problem of the Baltic Sea caused by overload of nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus. Symptoms of eutrophication include for example reduced water transparency and massive occurrences of harmful algae. Reduction of especially phosphorus load is urgently needed to improve the state of the Baltic Sea. Project PURE* tackled eutrophication: it enhanced phosphorus removal at selected municipal wastewater treatment plants in the Baltic Sea region. PURE project has ended and it’s time to shortly summarise the activities and accomplishments.

During PURE project implementation time, three project partner wastewater treatment plants were deleted from the HELCOM hot spots list. These were Kohtla Järve in Estonia and Pomorzany and Zdroje in Szczecin, Poland. Project partners from Riga and Jurmala, Latvia and from Brest, Belarus focused their activities on investing. Currently, Riga and Brest wastewater treatment plants have a functioning chemical phosphorus removal system and Jurmala wastewater treatment plant have equipment that helps to control the biological phosphorus removal. With chemical phosphorus removal, annually over 100 tons of phosphorus is removed from the wastewaters of Riga. In addition, even up to 141 tons of phosphorus can be precipitated from the untreated wastewater in Brest with the current equipment.

In general, municipal sludge was very interesting topic. Both technical details as well as legislative issues of disposal were vividly discussed. After the project, it seems that municipal sludge continues to be a hot topic all around the Baltic Sea. It seems that wastewater treatment plants can be old or new, but challenges occur anyway. One of the PURE project results that we are very proud of is the Book of "Good Practices in Sludge Management". It presents technical solutions used in municipal wastewater sludge handling including disposal processes. The book compares the results achievable by application of different techniques, explores relevant emerging technologies and legal limitations for the further sewage sludge use.

One of the PURE projects’ outputs is a new benchmarking service for municipalities and water companies. Service is called PURE Benchmark online database and it contains wastewater treatment information from 30 municipalities and 3100 wastewater treatment plants around the Baltic Sea region. The user-friendly and practical online tool was developed by local users for practical needs like reporting and anonymous benchmarking. The database monitors also the level of wastewater treatment and technology used in the region.

Project organised six events that gathered 246 individual experts together to exchange information and to discuss about advanced wastewater treatment in the Baltic Sea Region. Among event participants, 88 were personnel from different water utilities. On-line training materials concluding the topics of the PURE project events are available for the public. Materials among other things include information about municipal sludge handling, investments in enhanced phosphorous removal in municipal wastewater treatment plants and eutrophication process of the Baltic Sea.

In addition to the events, PURE communicated the best available practices of modern wastewater treatment and sludge management by disseminating project Newsletters, Book of Good practices on Sludge management and other publications to 248 different expert organisations. Main target audience was water utilities. National and international associations and networks, authorities and other organisations like financial institutions, private companies and foundations, media and universities were also contacted.

After the project has finished it is easy to say that we have been able to make a difference. On a policy level, PURE projects’ steering group had an opportunity to participate in reformulation of the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea Region. It was possible to underline the important role of the of municipal wastewater treatment plants when tangible actions against eutrophication are demanded. In addition HELCOM is currently considering new guidelines for municipal sludge treatment. Many of the people and organisations that we worked with during the past four years have been able to increase their knowledge about the many possibilities of modern wastewater treatment.  Currently, important work for better future continues as partners signed the statement: Next steps of PURE partners to promote advanced phosphorus removal and sustainable sludge management in the Baltic Sea region. Now it is your turn to give your input.

*Project on Urban Reduction of Eutrophication PURE (co-financed by the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013)