Monitoring of water quality in small rivers and springs of the Leningrad region - work continues

On September 10, experts from ecological organization Friends of the Baltic, Ecocentrum Ltd, and North-West PGO JSC (Rosgeologia Holding) were the central part of the press conference held at the INTERFAX news agency. Experts spoke about the research of rivers and springs of the Leningrad Region under «Water meets people: learn, act & influence» (SEVIRA) project and «Clean Springs - Healthy Baltic» project, supported by the Presidential Grants Fund. The video of the press conference is available here.

According to the Rospotrebnadzor of the Leningrad Region, 10% of urban residents and 40% of rural residents of the Leningrad Region are not provided with quality drinking water. People trust that springs provide water of better quality than official sources of water supply. Socially significant springs are sources of drinking water supply for the population. Surprisingly they are not included in the state monitoring system of natural waters and water supply sources. It means that people have no information on what kind of water they drink. According to Olga Senova, director of the Friends of the Baltic, the quality of groundwater might be affected by improperly stored manure and other organic waste, many above-ground facilities without proper wastewater treatment. Regular monitoring of water bodies can show existing pollution and helps to find them.

Most of the small rivers are not monitored either by the officials. All water bodies in the basin are interconnected, sensitive to pollution, and need protection. Therefore Friends of the Baltic has been developing a network of public research of water bodies for over 20 years. Public research of the springs and rivers is carried out by volunteers under the methodological guidance of the Friends of the Baltic and Ecocentrum Ltd. In 2020, this is being done with the support of the transboundary cooperation SEVIRA project «Water meets people: learn, act & influence» and the Presidential Grants Fund. These studies with simple testing equipment provide preliminary information, a signal about the need for more accurate studies, or even help to distinguish the source of pollution. In our work, we compare test results from public monitorings and data from the lab to increase public research credibility.

The press conference experts noted that the basin approach is important. Rivers originate in one region of Russia and end in another. Even if all discharges directly into the river are stopped, the water will not necessarily become cleaner, because enterprises and scattered sources (country toilets, landfills, manure flushes from the fields) in the river basin will remain. Many springs fall into water bodies and originate from them. It means, acting on the springs, we indirectly influence the rivers and vice versa.

Research shows that the population sees spring water as a permanent source of drinking water. In 2020, within the framework of transboundary cooperation SEVIRA «Water meets people: learn, act & influence» and jointly the project of Friends of the Baltic and JSC «North-West PGO» (Holding «Rosgeologia»), small rivers and springs of the Leningrad region will be monitored again.

The research results will be available on the Public River Watch Map and the SEVIRA River Watch.