Baltic Sea Action Summit

Baltic Sea Action Summit


AB Klaipėdos Vanduo - for a clean Baltic Sea

The Baltic Sea is an offshoot of the Atlantic Ocean, deeply penetrating the north-eastern part of Europe. Its area is about 422,700 km2 and length about 1,800 km. The deepest point is the Landsort recess with a depth of 459 m. The depth of the Lithuanian coast of the Baltic Sea is only about 50 m. The Baltic Sea is surrounded by the coasts of Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Finland, Sweden, Denmark, Germany, Poland, and Russia.

The Baltic Sea surface water area is approximately equal to the Black Sea area, but its volume is about twenty times less. Thus, according to the amount of water, it is classed as a small sea. Since the bottom terrain is not homogenous, this affects the entire water flow. The circulation of water in the sea is very slow; therefore the Baltic is particularly sensitive to pollution. The Baltic Sea is surrounded by nine industrialized countries (see above). Nevertheless, a large part of marine pollution is municipal and agricultural wastewater. Currently, the Baltic Sea is among the most polluted seas in the world.

Since  the pollution  of the Baltic Sea has become a global problem, on 15 November, 2007 an action plan prepared by the Helsinki Commission (HELCOM) was adopted in Krakow, Poland, whereby the Baltic countries, Lithuania among them, undertook to take measures to reduce the pollution of the sea, and achieve a good environmental status by 2021. Measures have been designed to address the most important issues in the Baltic Sea pollution (eutrophication, pollution with hazardous chemicals, biodiversity loss, shipping and other adverse effects of activities).

On February 10, General Manager of AB Klaipėdos Vanduo, Leonas Makūnas participated in the summit of the Baltic Sea States in Helsinki, where the positions were expressed by the heads of all states surrounding the Baltic Sea. The event focused on four main areas: eutrophication, maritime activities, hazardous waste and biodiversity. Participants at the meeting - namely, the leaders, representing the business community, governments, NGOs, and philanthropists - all assumed certain commitments best matching their interests and abilities. Liabilities could be financial or intangible - it is most important that they promote the revival of the Baltic Sea. Meetings were held in plenary and working sessions to enable participants to interact with each other, continuing to develop alliances and make work commitments. The workshops were led by experts and their assistants.

In addition to AB Klaipėdos Vanduo, obligations were assumed by another three Lithuanian companies:

  • VSA Vilnius has promised to install semi-underground containers on the banks of the Neris River in the centre of Vilnius and to inform the public about the benefits of waste sorting and thereby reduce the pollutant inflow into the Neris River, and consequently into the Baltic Sea.
  • Achema Group undertook to create special logos for marking the fertilizers. In this way, farmers will be informed of their responsibility for the use of fertilizers and eutrophication in the Baltic.
  • Klaipėda State Sea Port Authority has committed to remove and clean up the contaminated soil in the Klaipėda State Seaport area.

Our company's core commitment is to facilitate and promote conscious connection of Klaipėda city and district people to a centralized wastewater system to reduce polluting emissions into the Baltic Sea.

Millions of Euros from the EU Member States' funds, and also the company's own funds have been spent on the construction of sewage networks, but people are reluctant to connect to centralized wastewater collection system; most of them simply do not have the money to do so.

In order to implement the commitment, AB Klaipėdos Vanduo set the following objectives:

  • Create a database of potential customers;
  • Facilitate the connection of settlements close to Klaipėda city to the Klaipėda centralized wastewater networks;
  • Create conditions for the preferential connection for citizens to connect to the centralized water supply networks;
  • Inform the target groups of the population about the connection opportunities, benefits, environmental impact, in media and other means;
  • Strengthen cooperation with environmental authorities for information about the population connection to the centralized wastewater collection system;
  • Provide proposals to public authorities on law improvements facilitating the connection of the population to centralized water supply networks.

Work on the achievement of the objectives was started in practice as early as 2008. The database of potential customers was prepared in Klaipėda. At the end of 2008 there were 3453 potential users in Klaipėda - i.e., houses that do not use a centralized wastewater collection system. Of these, about 700 buildings in Klaipėda could, but did not, use the waste water processing system. This would constitute about 70 000 m3 of waste improperly handled during the year.

Over 2009, about 150 buildings connected to the Klaipėda waste water system. But networks were laid in 2009 and connection became possible for another 1100 houses in Gargždai and 600 houses and apartments in Priekulė. Therefore, the number of houses and apartments that are able to use the centralised waste water collection system but are not is growing and is currently about 2500.

In 2010 and other 1500 houses in Klaipėda and 200 houses in Gargždai can connect to the bus centralised waste water collection system.

It is necessary to find ways to activate the connection of residents to a centralized wastewater collection system. Lithuanian law does not provide an obligation to citizens to connect to a centralized wastewater collection system. It only comprises an obligation to handle waste water according to the law, i.e. using a centralized or individual sewage treatment system. However, no individual sewage treatment system can ensure the level of sewage treatment as Klaipėda's general wastewater treatment facilities. Local facilities discharge at least four times more contamination in wastewater. An exception would be the waste storage tanks (collection pits), whose discharges are delivered to our waste water treatment system. However, if everything is done in good faith, this is quite an expensive method, and those people affected will be happy to connect to our wastewater system as soon as this becomes available.

In carrying out the commitments made, we will have to explain the citizens of Klaipėda district about the wastewater collection system benefits, invite them to contact us, and for those who do not understand and does not wish to join, we will request support from municipalities and environmentalists.

At the same time, one more event was held in Helsinki, aimed at cleaning up the Baltic Sea. It was attended by our company's Wastewater Department Director Algimantas Jagnieškus and senior waste water treatment technologist Vaidotas Girdvainis.

The seminar discussed effective methods for the removal of biogenic substances from municipal sewage. The main objective was to provide the opportunity for direct dialogue between the Baltic region's businesses and organizations that provide funding for technical projects and seeking for new ways of funding. The event was attended by John Nurminen Foundation, concentrating its activities on the phosphorus effluent treatment. Established in 2005 in St. Petersburg, this fund has recently been looking for new potential partners in all cities of the Baltic Sea region, including Belarus and Ukraine.

The participants of the seminar were given the opportunity to visit one of the most modern sewage treatment plants in the Nordic countries, installed in underground rocks. This treatment plant cleans about 270 thousand m3 of waste water every day. In 2009, total phosphorus levels in the treatment plant have been cleaned up to 0.24 mg/l.

Better efficiency of treatment of phosphorus and other parameters should be considered by the Lithuanian water treatment businesses professionals, particularly as this is provided by increasingly tighter environmental legal requirements.

Ecologist Danguolė Čeledinienė
AB Klaipėdos Vanduo
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