2 years of Russian presidency at Helcom are over - time for Russia to switch from paperwork to action to implement the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan.

The problems of eutrophication, biodiversity and integrated coastal development are among the main problems of the Baltic Sea also mentioned at the HELCOM conference "Sustainable Baltic Cities" on 18 May and HELCOM Ministerial Meeting on 20 May in Moscow.
Even though during the two years of Russia's presidency in HELCOM some positive changes in wastewater treatment in St.petersburg have occurred, the problem of increased sea pollution by nutrients coming from untreated wastewaters of small towns and villages and farmlands remains unsolved and there are still no plans of action to restore the biodiversity in the Russian part of the Baltic.

The problems of eutrophication, biodiversity and integrated coastal development are among the main problems of the Baltic Sea also mentioned at the HELCOM conference «Sustainable Baltic Cities" on 18 May and HELCOM Ministerial Meeting on 20 May in Moscow.

During the two years of Russia's presidency in HELCOM some positive changes have occurred. The volume of treated wastewater has reached 91% of the total amount through the development of treatment facilities and improvement of wastewater treatment at Vodokanal facilities in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg became the first metropolis in the world who completely abandoned the use of chlorinated drinking water.

In order to preserve biodiversity a network of specially protected nature areas (SPNAs) are being developed in St. Petersburg and Leningrad region. In St. Petersburg, 12 more SPNAs are planned to be created in the near future. The documents for establishing Ingermanland Nature reserve in the Gulf of Finland are prepared and should be finalized very soon.

At the same time, many issues remain unresolved. These include the lack of sewage treatment in Kaliningrad, the towns of Metallostroy, Lomonosov, several towns in the Leningrad region, as well as in many small settlements, including dacha cooperatives and collective gardens. Nutrients (nitrogen and phosphorus) from agriculture and from animal farms leak to the sea. This greatly enhances eutrophication.
The Russian part of the Baltic coast desperately needs a management plan. There is no balance between industrial development and preservation of coastal ecosystems, the industrial development scenario dominates. 200 EUR per one meter of the coast is invested in technological projects in the southern Gulf of Finland. Measures to compensate for the damage to nature from industrial projects are simply non existing.

The acute problem of nutrient influx coming with the untreated wastewater from coastal settlements and those at river banks in Russia has not been solved. As an example, the town of Lomonosov, located 43 km away from St.Petersburg, with a population of 40 000, has an annual discharge of nitrogen (N) around 170 tons and over 35 tons of Phosphorus (P). Large amounts of N is contained in urine, while P comes from detergents. Wastewaters of small settlements (under 300 inhabitants) remain untreated, while there are several hundreds of them along the banks of rivers that flow into the Gulf of Finland. There are over 200 000 country houses and garden plots in Leningrad region, where over 1 mln of people stay in summer. The official sources give no estimations of this contribution to the nutrient load of the water objects. Independent experts, however, having in mind that over 1 mln people spend on average 30 days a year at their summer houses, estimate the annual load to be around 1000 tons of N and 250 of P.

Waste from livestock farming in leningrad region (mostry pig and poultry farms) constitute 14 000 tons of N and 3000 tons of P, that become part of surface run-off due to unsatisfactory storage conditions.
Total N and F amounts in the untreated sewage are estimated to count up to thousands of tons and may be compared to volumes of respective nutrients discharged by the city of St.Petersburg (2008: 10902 tons of N and 1158 tons of P).

All this has a negative impact on biodiversity. Less and less coastal areas remain for recreation purposes and for coastal birds and animals. In many existing protected areas, destructive activities are ongoing, such as logging (Kurgalsky reserve) and sand extraction (Lebyazhy reserve). In the Leningrad region, almost all the rivers are no longer suitable for spawning fish. Wild populations of the Baltic salmon is endangered, however there are still a few wild salmon left in the Luga river, but there is no plan to safeguard this important salmon river.

Today, after 2 years of Russia's presidency in HELCOM, these problems are not addressed. Russia has not presented the National Programme for BSAP implementation at the Ministerial Meeting. Instead the concept of the Programme and its intentions were presented which is unsatisfactory.

Coalition Clean Baltic believes that Russia could and should include in the National Programme for PDBM Implementation effective measures to reduce eutrophication, to maintain and restore biodiversity, to conserve coastal areas, including:

- Commission wastewater treatment plants in all settlements on the Baltic Sea coast without exception.

-Develop the national plan for introduction of the methods for sewage treatment for individual homes, small businesses and settlements with a population below 300 people, including gardening and dacha areas, including using the technology of "dry toilets" and subsequent composting.

-Develop measures to counteract the pollution of rivers and the Baltic Sea with wastes from animal farms.

-Develop measures to implement the prohibitions and restrictions on the use of fertilizers on agricultural lands.

-Develop measures to replace polyphosphates in detergents with a clear timetable for their implementation, with the view that the content of total phosphorus does not exceed 0,2-0,5% by weight of products. To promote “green consumer” choice for supporting phosphate-free production.

-To ensure efficient management and strict adherence to the conservation of protected areas.

-To speed up the establishing of Ingermanland nature reserve in the Gulf of Finland.

-To develop plans for the recovery of biodiversity in valuable natural areas, including the plan to protect and restore the population of Baltic salmon in the Luga River.

-To carry out spatial planning of the entire Russian Baltic Sea coast, providing a balanced territorial development and conservation of marine and coastal ecosystems - both at the federal level and at the municipal with broad public participation.

For more information please contact:
Gunnar Noren,, +46 785605352
Olga Senova,, +7 921 9117986
Vera Ovcharenko,, +7 921 9217925

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