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Better treatment of urban wastewaters improves the state of the Baltic Sea

Eutrophication is the major environmental problem of the Baltic Sea. It is caused by overload of nutrients, nitrogen and phosphorus, entering the sea mainly from land. Symptoms of eutrophication include reduced water transparency, massive occurrences of harmful algae, slimy beaches, dead zones in the bottom of the sea and deteriorated spawning areas of many fish species.

Reduction of especially phosphorus load is urgently needed to improve the state of the Baltic Sea. Project PURE (Project on Urban Reduction of Eutrophication) implements one of the most cost effective and quickest ways to tackle eutrophication: it enhances phosphorus removal at selected municipal wastewater treatment plants in the Baltic Sea region. PURE partner water utilities aim to achieve an average annual concentration of 0.5 mg phosphorus / litre in outgoing wastewaters - the level recommended by the HELCOM Baltic Sea Action Plan to reach a good environmental status of the sea. Altogether, it will lead to the annual reduction of at least 300-500 tons of eutrophying phosphorus load.

The phosphorus removed from the wastewaters stays in the wastewater sludge and it is essential to prevent this phosphorus from ending up in the watercourses. Sludge management is challenging to many wastewater treatment plants. Thus PURE also maps, develops and shares good practices and innovative techniques to handle the wastewater sludge.

PURE encourages the waste water treatment plants in the Baltic Sea region to follow those exemplary ones that already reach the HELCOM recommendation in phosphorus removal.

The total budget of the PURE project is 3.2M Euros of which 2.6M go under the ERDF budget and 600 thousands - under ENPI budget. The project is co-financed by the Baltic Sea Region Programme 2007-2013.