How to avoid water pollution in Belarus and the Baltic Sea?

The contamination of the Belarusian reservoirs and the Baltic Sea was discussed at the January 30, 2018 conference in Minsk. The event was attended by more than 80 participants from various regions of Belarus, including representatives of housing and communal services, district executive committees and public organizations. The organizers of the conference were IPO “Ecopartnership” and the Coalition Clean Baltic.

The Executive Secretary of the Coalition Clean Baltic, Mikhail Durkin, in his speech outlined the most pressing problems of water resources management and the formation of a policy for their solution in the Baltic Sea region, where part of the Belarusian rivers carry their waters.

“When large urban aglomerations and large agricultural enterprises appeared in the Baltic region, when mineral fertilizers began to be actively used, this led to the fact that in the mid-80’s the situation in the Baltic reached a peak in terms of pollution, and the Baltics literally began to choke,” said Mikhail Durkin.

The project manager of NonHazCity Tonie Wickman was talking about the new pollutants that enter sewage from households. She was talking about dangerous chemicals that are in non-food products − household chemicals, building materials, cosmetics, clothes, toys − and as a result fall into the environment. Among them are alkylphenols, phthalates, bisphenol A. It resulted in analysis of sewage from residential and industrial areas of 6 cities in different countries, which was conducted as part of the NonHazCity project. Alkylphenols, bisphenol A, cadmium, perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl chemicals have been found in all municipalities and in all samples. These substances contribute to the destruction of the human endocrine system and affect the reproductive function of animals.

In the fight against this problem, the development of a management plan for hazardous substances at the municipality level helps. So, Tonie Wickman shared the experience of Stockholm, where a similar document was adopted for 2014-2019. It provides for informing residents, compliance with environmental criteria for municipal procurement and monitoring.

In addition to the Swedish experience in reducing hazardous substances in goods, also Riga and Gdansk were talking about their experience.

The conference participants also talked about issues of involving the public in solving water problems. It was discussed how different tools that could be used when working with residents.

The conference “Towards Prevention Pollution of Water Resource by Introducing Innovative  Solutions and Engaging Population at Municipal Level”  was held in the framework of the Water and Health Campaign with the support of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and the project “Demand for good governance in housing and utilities sector”  that is financed by the European Union.