Clean rivers, wells and springs - contribution of everybody is important!

Press conference “Rivers, springs and wells: about problems and solutions for reducing pollution of natural waters by wastewater from cities, villages, gardening communities and agriculture” was held On June 13, in INTERFAX Inform agency. Friends of the Baltic and Ecocentrum presented the results of a three-year work on the Barents-Baltic Nature and People program and the project “Small-scale solutions to reduce nutrient load into the Baltic Sea” in St.Petersburg and the Leningrad Region.

Olga Senova, Head of the Working Group on Water Resources and Waste Water Quality in Coalition Clean Baltic, told reporters about eutrophication of the Baltic Sea, as well as about the implementation of HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan goals on nutrient load reduction to the Baltic Sea. She underlined that the purity of the waters in the sea begins with the purity of the rivers flowing into it, and the sources of pollution are most often terrestrial sources — wastewater discharges, farms manure, and other organic waste. “It is necessary to highlight the goals of reducing nutrient load not only at the level of the Baltic Sea region states, but also at the level of river basins, and later on at the level of certain categories of water users (municipalities, industrial enterprises, farms),” said Olga Senova.

Mikhail Strakhov, head of the water department of the Committee for Nature Management of St.Petersburg, spoke about the efforts of the authorities to prevent water pollution and eliminate the
consequences. For example, on pollution of the river Novaya with the sewage of the Pulkovo airport, the issue is resolved in court. According to Mikhail Strakhov, to improve the situation, it is necessary to eliminate the gaps in legislation, and environmental and public education, and the involvement of civil society in the process of identifying and solving problems.

Anna Kazina presented the main results of the Barents-Baltic Nature and People program: more than 4,000 people — authorities, municipalities, gardeners, fishermen, teachers and schoolchildren, students, scientists, farmers, pensioners, church representatives — on the events of the program learned how natural water affects by the activity of people on the banks, discussed ways to reduce pollution, sent their proposals for improving the situation to the authorities, they themselves took initiatives and introduced solutions to reduce pollution from private houses, farms, toilets, and vegetable gardens. A network of public monitoring of water quality in rivers, springs, wells of the city and region was created by volunteers, the points of monitoring are marked on the map. The dialogue involved potential pollutants. Interaction with farms of the Leningrad Region on the issues of livestock / poultry waste management has been established.

Active participants united in the Public Advisory Council of the Luga River Basin and the rivers of the South Shore of the Gulf of Finland and developed proposals for improving the situation in the region.

The proposals were sent to the State Duma Committee on Ecology and Environmental Protection, the Government of St. Petersburg, the Government of the Leningrad Region, the Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad Region, and were discussed at the meetings of the Basin Council of the Baltic and Barents-White Sea Basin Districts.

Elena Gretchina told about the work on popularization of local solutions for wastewater treatment in non-canalized areas: septic tanks, local treatment plants, dry toilets. In 4 districts of the Leningrad region, demonstration complexes “Dry toilet with separate collection and composting of waste” were installed in public areas. Such toilets are an alternative to rural toilets with a cesspool: the liquid and solid fraction is collected separately and recycle into fertilizer. Two of the four complexes are equipped for people with disabilities. The complexes serve to disseminate information among the population about the problem of nutrient pollution of the Baltic Sea and the rivers flowing into it, and about the methods of wastewater treatment. Some municipalities are interested in using such toilets.

Grigory Voronyuk, the main hydrogeologist of the North-Western department of Rosgeology, told the participants about the project “Springs of the Leningrad Region”, which was organized in collaboration with the St. Petersburg Bloggers Community and the Komsomolskaya Pravda newspaper. At the request of residents, chemical analysis of water in the springs is carried out, the results are marked on the map.

The Friends of the Baltic program and the project of the Rosgeology took place parallel to each other, which indicates the importance of the topic concerned. Because of currently there is no unified state program for monitoring of drinking water from springs in the region, public research is of particular importance.

The main conclusion of the press conference is the importance of combining the efforts of all stakeholders in reducing the nutrient load into the surface and groundwater of St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region. The preservation of clean waters, control over their quality is the responsibility of everyone!