The Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment are financing the modernization of ten small wastewater treatment plants in St. Petersburg.

NEFCO has approved a loan of EUR 5 million and the Finnish Ministry of the Environment has committed EUR 1 million for the project. The other financiers of the scheme are the Northern Dimension Environmental Programme (NDEP) and the local waterworks company Vodokanal, which is also responsible for implementing the project.

The investment is intended to upgrade the treatment of wastewater at small and medium-sized plants by, among other things, installing modern equipment, which will enable the chemical removal of phosphorus.

The project will benefit some 410,000 people, and is expected to reduce discharges of phosphorus into the Neva River and the Gulf of Finland by some 40 tonnes per year –  a figure equivalent to the discharge of untreated wastewater by more than 53,000 people per year.

St. Petersburg’s wastewater treatment system has been substantially improved and upgraded during the last ten years. The first tests on improving biological phosphorus removal, which were supported by the Finnish Ministry of the Environment, were carried out in the area during the mid 1990’s. In 2000, this cooperation was extended to the chemical removal of phosphorus.

Largely as a result of these measures, phosphorus discharges have been reduced in the bigger wastewater treatment plants by 50 % during the last ten years.

“Our cooperation with Vodokanal on the protection of the Baltic Sea has been exemplary and produced impressive results”, says Hannele Pokka, Permanent Secretary at the Finnish Ministry of Environment.

According to Pokka, the St. Petersburg project has proved that the chemical removal of phosphorus is a cost-efficient and reliable process, which should be extended to other wastewater treatment plants in the area.

Currently, almost 85 per cent of St. Petersburg’s wastewater is treated and this figure will rise to 94 per cent when the Northern Collector System will come on stream.

”This project is intended to solve all the nutrient discharge problems emanating from the City of St. Petersburg, for once and all, and after the modernization process, the city will comply with all the recommendations laid out by HELCOM,” says NEFCO’s Vice President, Kari Homanen.

According to the Finnish Environment Institute, improved wastewater treatment in St. Petersburg will drastically improve water quality, promote biodiversity and reduce the spread and proliferation of toxic algae (cyanobacteria) in the Gulf of Finland.

NEFCO is an international financial institution owned by the five Nordic countries and mainly finances environmentally-related projects and investments in Russia, Ukraine, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Belarus in order to generate positive environmental effects for the Nordic region. At present, the funds administered by the corporation are valued at some EUR 383 million.

For more information

Kari Homanen, Vice President, NEFCO, Tel. +358 50 311 1047
Karl-Johan Lehtinen, Senior Manager, NEFCO, Tel. +358 40 593 1239
Mikael Sjövall, Communications Manager, NEFCO, Tel.+358 50 3535 045

Kristiina Isokallio, Director, Ministry of the Environment, 
Tel.+358 50 581 9618
Laura Saijonmaa, Counsellor, Ministry of the Environment, 
Tel.+358 40 546 3344