Small rivers and springs of Vyborgsky district are objects worthy of attention

Friends of the Baltic and Ecocentrum have organized November 6-7 the round table "Environmental conditions of water bodies of the Leningrad region: solutions for the Vyborg district". The purposes of the event were the presentation of the river quality results of projects to the administration and locals, discussion of potential sources of pollution, and the necessary measures for its reduction. The same days our group made field expeditions.The working group investigated the quality of water in springs and small rivers in the Vyborg district. This field trip was held within the framework of the project "Water meet people - learn, act, influence" (SEVIRA), the project "Clean springs - clean rivers - healthy Baltic - healthy people", supported by the Presidential Grants Fund, and within the Water Program of the Coalition Clean Baltic.

During the expedition samples were taken in three springs in the Vyborg and Vsevolozhsky districts of the Leningrad Region, and the Kurortny district of St.Petersburg, as well as on the Sestra river and at two points on the transboundary river Seleznevka (Rakkolanjoki in Finnish). Significant deviations from the norm were not detected using express tests. Express testing revealed the presence of ammonium up to 2 mg /l at two spots on the Seleznevka river; this may be a consequence of the wastewater discharge upstream. For example, private houses are installed right next to the river, wastewater is one of the reasons for the appearance of ammonia in the water. We plan to continue our research to track the dynamics and possible reasons for this excess. The observation results will be published on a map of public monitoring of natural water bodies.

The round table "Ecological condition of water bodies of the Leningrad region: solutions for the Vyborg district", which took place on November 6 in Vyborg, gathered people to solve the problem in the monitoring and protection of water bodies in the Vyborg region. The discussion involves representatives of the Vyborg administration, employees of Rosgeologia Holding, as well as representatives of non-profit organizations and active research teachers.

Olga Senova, Director of the Friends of the Baltic organization, spoke about the importance of monitoring the whole river basin to understand the general situation. Participation of the local residents and public organizations is very important for monitoring water quality and in finding solutions to preserve the purity of waters. There is a positive experience of such participation in the format of Public Advisory River Teams, uniting interested people from one water basin.

Anna Kagramanyan, the deputy head of environmental protection and natural resources of the Vyborg region, in her welcoming speech noted that the administration has long and productively cooperated with public activists and educational organizations in the region for improving the quality of the environment and human health.

Elena Gretchina, project manager of the Friends of the Baltic, presented the project “Clean Springs - Healthy Baltic” and spring water research results in the Vyborg region. In the summer of 2020, 7 springs were investigated according to 20 indicators - in the Scandinavia microdistrict of Vyborg, in Primorsk, Vysotsk, Roshchino, Glebychevo, Gavrilovo, SNT Druzhba. The pH was underestimated in all springs. At a norm of 6-9, the pH ranges from 5.39 to 5.95, that is, the water is slightly acidic, which can be caused by natural factors - the soils in these regions are characterized by high acidity. The excess of the norms for nitrate ions was revealed by 2 times in the springs in Primorsk and Roshchino in 2017, but the excess has not been found now. Changes in the quality of water in springs in different periods of observation indicate the need for regular monitoring of the quality of water in springs and wells, the water from which residents use for drinking. Repeated monitoring of these springs will be carried out in November. All research protocols are plotted on the map of public monitoring of natural water bodies  (the "Springs" layer of the map) and the map "Springs of the Leningrad Region".

Friends of the Baltic, together with partners from JSC North-West PGO (including Rosgeologia), presented to the deputies of the Leningrad Region proposals for a legislative initiative to enter into the state water register and further develop the monitoring system of springs of high social importance. Public table participants confirmed that local residents use the water in the springs for drinking. The centralized water intake in Vyborg is made from surface sources (lakes), and residents do not trust the quality of tap water.

Irina Chernyavskaya,  the Directors Adviser, and Lyubov Taktueva, Head of the Groundwater Party at North-West PGO JSC (Rosgeologia Holding) spoke about the importance of systematic seasonal monitoring of springs as drinking sources. Also, they noted the problem of old wells. Many popular springs are abandoned wells, it is important to identify and eliminate them in order to exclude depletion of aquifers, or to legalize those wells that are a constant source of drinking water supply for the population. Then the well-spring is put on the balance of the administration for regular monitoring and determination of the sanitary protection zone

Alexander Esipenok, project manager of Ecocentrum, presented the results of the Russian-Finnish SEVIRA project "Water meet people - learn, act, influence" in the Vyborg district. Research results partner organizations (Institute of Limnology, Russia Academy of Sciences, Roshydromet, Finnish environment Institute) and volunteers, the resume of a sociological survey of local residents about the ecological condition of the Seleznevka River, the possibility of public participation in ecological monitoring of the Seleznevka River and the northern coast of the Gulf of Finland - this work was done in the Vyborg district during the project. Alexander also spoke about the prospects for further research - local residents, teachers and students, tourists and ordinary local active people are encouraged to participate in the public research. The research results are published on the map of public monitoring of natural waters bodies and the SEVIRA River Watch. With the support of Finnish and Russian partners a roadmap for actions will be developed in the future to strengthen public and scientific control over water bodies and to propose solutions for business and authorities in order to improve the ecological condition of the Gulf of Finland.

Friends of the Baltic within the framework of the LUGABALT2 project and "Clean springs - clean rivers - healthy Baltic - healthy people" presented recommendations for the management of farm animal waste, wastewater and solid household waste for water bodies protection. Recommendations talk about environmentally friendly farming: how to store and apply manure, why dry toilets are better than cesspools, what other wastewater treatment systems are suitable for use in rural areas, how to minimize the generation of household waste.

The round table participants had the opportunity to analyze for some indicators the water which was taken from their water sources. Friends of the Baltic has provided consultations for local public researchers, and equipped them with express tests for the future field work.

The organizers of the expedition and the participants of the round table are planning further fruitful cooperation with a common goal - clean water for the Baltic region!