The project for rehabilitation of the water and wastewater treatment facilities in the city of Petrozavodsk has been completed. With an 83% reduction of phosphorus discharges into lake Onega, the community has clearly benefitted from the joint efforts of the Nordic financiers and the local authorities. Now, the modernised facilities fulfil the requirements defined by the Baltic Marine Environment Protection Commission (HELCOM).

Petrozavodsk is the capital of the Republic of Karelia, Russia, and has about 280,000 inhabitants. The city is located on the north-western shore of Lake Onega, which belongs to the catchment area of the Baltic Sea. Emissions of nitrogen and phosphorus from the wastewater treatment facilities in the area are considered to facilitate eutrophication, which is a major environmental problem of the Baltic Sea.

The recently completed water and wastewater rehabilitation project in the city of Petrozavodsk has a long history. The Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) engaged in the project in order to address two environmental ‘hot spots’, K4 and K5, which were identified by the Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) due to the low quality of drinking water in Petrozavodsk and the poor treatment of wastewater effluents in 2003.

As a result, a EUR 35 million investment programme was developed and further financed by a combination of Russian targeted federal support, municipal funds, and loans from the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) and NEFCO at an amount of EUR 11 million, supported by grants from the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP) and the Finnish Government – EUR 5 million and EUR 2.5 million, respectively.

The project included completion of the chemical treatment stage at the water treatment plant, construction of a recycling unit for sludge, rehabilitation of critical parts of the wastewater treatment plant and implementation of a biochemical treatment process to improve phosphorous removal.

With the implemented measures, the quality of the drinking water and wastewater treatment improved significantly. It is expected that the new wastewater treatment process will reduce phosphorus discharges to Lake Onega by 75 tonnes per year, which corresponds to an 83% reduction annually. Now, the wastewater plant, inaugurated in 2017, fulfils the HELCOM requirements, as well as applicable Russian standards regarding nitrogen and phosphorus removal from the wastewater.

The achieved results led to significant improvements in the quality of drinking water and wastewater treatment. Subsequently, both hot spots (K4 and K5) were removed from the Barents Environmental Hot Spots List.

Among other benefits, the project enhanced community health and safety by ensuring improved drinking water quality and reduced environmental load to the water resources.

This project has also contributed to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 6 for clean water and sanitation, and Goal 14, which aims to conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources.