Cesspool? No, thanks.

There are 3.5 thousand gardening communities and more than 2 million gardeners in the Leningrad region. Over the three summer months, there collected toilet wastes, in which there are more than 2,300 tons of nitrogen and 300 tons of phosphorus. Half a million people reside on the territory of the Leningrad Region in houses that are not connected to the sewage system. These are 2,275 tons of nitrogen and 255 tons of phosphorus per year. In the absence of treatment, untreated sewage flows into groundwater and surface water, causing eutrophication and contaminating drinking water sources. Cesspools are still the most common way to collect toilet waste in rural areas. 

The alternatives were discussed by the participants of the round table of the project “Small-scale solutions to reduce nutrient load into the Baltic Sea” during the seminar “Development of cooperation between government, business, science, population and NGOs on the municipal and agricultural wastewater treatment” held on December 5 in St. Petersburg. Thanks to the project, it was possible to draw attention to the problem and show possible solutions to a large circle of interested people - local authorities, public organizations, gardeners, ordinary villagers, as well as specialists. involved in the protection of water bodies from pollution.

The project duration consist a year and a half already and includes an informational (do people know about the dangers of cesspools?) And the practical component (we offer a specific solution - dry toilets). During this time, 43 events were organized on ways to reduce the nutrient load on the water bodies of the Baltic region and 4 demonstration dry toilets were installed in the Lomonosovsky, Volosovsky, Gatchina and Luga districts of the Leningrad Region.

All demonstration complexes were presented to the participants of the seminar - features of their device, key tasks of their installation and current operating results, reviews of owners and visitors. There are three types of toilets, as well as composters.

A week before the seminar, we talked to the chairman of gardening Fauna, Vladimir Kulikov, he shared the opinions of gardeners - some of them already installed dry toilets in their homes.


Svetlana Volnitskaya, head of " The Golden Horseshoe" ranch in the Gatchina district, spoke about the experience of operating the democomplex. On the territory of the ranch, mass festivals are held, including for 1,000 people, visitors to the toilet perceive it as a museum, and the chairman of the local gardening community Lesnoy, leads gardeners to the area with excursions — that is, the demonstration complex effectively works as an information platform. Children engaged in hippotherapy and adults in wheelchairs got an accessible toilet.

Sofya Ivanova presented the results of the demonstration complex operating at the art-estate Kaikino-10 (Volosovsky district). Thanks to the installation of a toilet with a ramp, not only the problem of nutrient load is resolved, but also people in places with disabilities in wheelchairs became more and more active in the art-estate — visitors leave positive feedback on the toilet arrangement — convenient and informative.

The representative of the company Biolan Galina Ragozina told about how to carry out a full cleaning of the waste of the household, having a dry toilet and a filter for cleaning gray water or a septic tank. Representatives of local wastewater treatment plants manufactures presented solutions for households of various sizes - from individual houses to villages.

The Luga Municipal District Administration is showing interest in installing of dry toilets in the park. Dry toilet will be installed in the Arkhangelsk Region at the venue of the seminars held by Regional Network for Sustainable Development of the Village NGO. Also, partners from the Yaroslavl region put a toilet in the Woldorf school on the territory of the Legend of the Russian Manor NGO. Friends of the Baltic NGO provide informational posters and consultations on the installation of dry toilets. In the spring of 2019, a trip to all three complexes with the participation of journalists, government officials and the public is planned.

The importance of wastewater treatment systems installation and, especially, dry toilets using is outlined in the round table conclusions, that included in the seminar final resolution (RUS):

- it is necessary to follow the requirements of the Helcom Baltic Sea Action Plan, in particular  according to Recommendation 28E / 6, which speaks about local wastewater treatment of individual houses, small enterprises and settlements with up to 300 people, and offers concrete measures, including installation of dry toilets;

- supervisory committees are recommended to strengthen control over the ecological state of water bodies, including by attracting and supporting public observers. Creating the online map showing nitrate pollution of St. Petersburg and Leningrad region surface and groundwater is good example of the work of the public;

- SUE Vodokanal and SUE Lenoblvodokanal is recommended to include into priority plans the construction of the missing and reconstruction of the existing wastewater treatment systems to ensure the necessary level of treatment - with the involvement of all possible means: regional, municipal, business support, population and international projects;

- Legislative Assembly and the Government of the Leningrad Region are recommended to consider the possibility to include in the regional law the responsibility for the lack of sewage treatment plants at individual housing construction sites and for the discharge of untreated sewage into natural water bodies;

 - local authorities are recommended to consider the possibility of using the best technologies and practices of local wastewater treatment: dry toilets, gray water filters, septic tanks, local wastewater treatment plants, biopruds;

- business companies are recommended to disseminate information about solutions for wastewater treatment, in particular, at specialized events on housing and communal services and at gardeners' meetings;

- public organizations need to promote the wide dissemination of information about the problem of pollution of water bodies with nutrients from wastewater and the involvement of all stakeholders in the discussion of problem solving;

- public organizations - hosts of demonstration sites with working dry toilets should promote distribution of small-scale local solutions for wastewater treatment through open doors events on demonstration sites (in the Lomonosovsky, Volosovsky, Gatchina and Luga districts of the Leningrad Region).

Authored by Elena Gretchina, project coordinator, Ecocentrum Ltd