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Discussing nutrient removal and recycling during Baltic Sea Day

5 April, 2019 - 11:48

The XX International environmental forum “Baltic Sea Day” was organized in St. Petersburg on 21–22 March 2019 bringing together more than 700 participants from the countries of the Baltic Sea Region to exchange experiences and practices, propose solutions and discuss current and future cooperation.

The forum annually attracts key stakeholders from the Russian water sector, at the same time being an important space for international discussion, this year, hosting more than 100 participants from outside of Russia. The programme of the Baltic Sea Day 2019 addressed the matter of sustainable development of the Baltic Sea, emphasizing international cooperation and coordination through e.g. developing the Baltic Sea Action Plan and the Baltic Sea Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy. Altogether 14 parallel meetings and roundtable discussions were organized over the first day highlighting regional trends. Among those, public attention was most turned to solutions for nutrient recycling in the wastewater sector, marine litter, coastal erosion and effects of climate change on the Baltic Sea.

One of the parallel sessions of the first day was organized in the framework of the BSR WATER platform, engaging more than 60 participants into discussion of potential solutions to enhance P-recycling in the wastewater sector. The active session with participants contributing to the discussion with questions and comments, emphasizing identification of aspects of the wastewater sector that need to be covered in the future, collected several practical suggestions for supporting the water sector that can be further utilized in the expansion and improvement of the Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy developed at HELCOM.


The BSR WATER platform engages several transnational projects contributing to the development of policy recommendations on nutrient recycling and handling hazardous substances, as well as to the expansion of expert network and exchange of practical experiences in the water sector. The policy work in the platform is developed in close cooperation with HELCOM preparing recommendations on nutrient recycling. In the framework of the BSR WATER session three projects presented their experiences with nutrient management and recycling possibilities, further engaging present experts in the discussion and opinion exchange.

Two projects actively involved in the BSR WATER platform implementation presented their solutions to the management of nutrients. First, IWAMA project introduced its approach to smart sludge management at municipal wastewater treatment plants including actions applied in the IWAMA project alongside with practical outputs that can aid the Baltic Sea Region in improving nutrient management. Further, BEST project joined with solutions that are being developed in the project for industrial discharges to the WWTPs. Finally, NonHazCity project, with which BSR WATER cooperates closely outside of the consortium, presented the challenges of handling hazardous substances and possible upstream measures for making safer final products.

From the summarized outcomes of the session, there were several identified suggestions on measures to uptake by the Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy: 

  • Develop holistic approach to nutrient recycling in the wastewater sector considering all stages of wastewater management, specific geographic parameters and socio-economic conditions
  • Improve upstream measures that aim at changing population behaviour towards minimization of the household use of chemicals, and develop procurement procedures to limit the consumption of products containing harmful chemicals.
  • Develop legal instruments to strengthen control of pollutants at sources.
  • Develop certification and quality assurance system to promote usage of sewage-containing products.
  • Increase application of available technologies to ensure environmentally safe nutrient recycling from water, sludge and sludge ashes.
  • Develop economic models based on multi-sectoral approach to analyse feasibility of P-recycling in the wastewater sector.


The second day of the Forum continued with the panel discussion on Regional Nutrient Recycling Strategy that based both on the first day's session and on HELCOM activities. In the course of elaborating the Strategy, the discussion, which involved Dr. Hannele Pokka (Ministry of Environment, Finland), Dr. Lars Sonesten (Chair of PRESSURE group, Swedish University of Agricultural Science), Dr. Aleksander Brukhanov (Institute for Engineering and Environmental Problems in Agricultural Production, Russia) and Ms. Olga Rublevskaya (Vodokanal of St. Petersburg, Russia), concluded that the Regional Strategy should trigger adoption of national strategies based on innovative approach, initiating development of legal frame, political and financial tools to facilitate implementation of measures to recycle nutrients in the wastewater and agricultural sector.

Good to know

Baltic Sea Day is hold annually in St. Petersburg with support by the Government of St. Petersburg and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Ecology of Russian Federation, practical organization of the forum executed by the BSR WATER partner SC Mineral. The agenda was developed jointly with the HELCOM Secretariat and it reflected the main directions of HELCOM work and issues relevant for Russia in terms of fulfilling the obligations under the Helsinki Convention.