Good practices in sludge management – preface

The Project on Urban Reduction of Eutrophication (PURE) aims at reducing the phosphorus loads that enter the Baltic Sea in excess amounts resulting in many negative consequences in the sea’s ecosystem. PURE has proposed and realised cost-effective investments and operational changes to enhance phosphorus removal at six municipal waste water treatment plants. In addition, the project has reviewed good practices and challenges in municipal sewage sludge handling in the Baltic Sea region in order to facilitate decision making of the water companies in sludge management issues.

The alternative technical solutions and legislative situation concerning different ways of handling and disposing of sludge in PURE are compiled in the book "Good Practices in Sludge Management", including the differences in national trends and the status of emerging technologies on phosphorus recovery and reject water treatment. There are also observations concerning the main drivers and obstacles of sustainable sludge management, including both economic and regulatory drivers guiding the development of sludge management choices of an individual water company. Publication is also available for download in German, Latvian, Polish and Russian languages.

The Baltic Marine Protection Commission (Helsinki Commission or HELCOM) is one of the PURE partners. It works to protect the marine environment of the Baltic Sea from all sources of pollution through intergovernmental co-operation between Denmark, Estonia, the European Union, Finland, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russia and Sweden. In November 2012 HELCOM Land-based pollution group is considering revising of HELCOM Recommendation 28E/5 on municipal waste water treatment to either include a sewage sludge handling component or develop a separate HELCOM recommendation on sewage sludge handling.

There are nine coastal countries around the Baltic Sea. The drainage area or catchment of the sea – which is home to over 85 million people – extends even wider and is almost four times larger than the sea itself (indicated in the map with a thick black line). Baltic Sea is much shallower than most of the world’s seas, with a mean depth of only 53 m. It is very sensitive to impacts of human activities also because of the brackish water, cold winters and slow water exchange.