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International researchers come together to reduce the Baltic Sea pollution

03.03.2016
 

 

The reduction of the Baltic Sea pollution is a huge challenge for whole Europe. Therefore, in October 2015, researchers from Finland, Sweden, Estonia and Latvia started the international WATERCHAIN project aiming to reduce the amount of nutrients and hazardous substances in river basins flowing to the Baltic Sea.

NASA / USGS Landsat image shows the mouth of Daugava River in the Baltic Sea

As a part of the WATERCHAIN project researchers will collect a scientific information of the pilot water bodies, as well as test and compare various technological solutions to reduce nutrient and hazardous substances inflows, thus reducing pollution in the Baltic Sea. The present status in the countries invoved in this project will be compared, best practices recognized and  the results wil be presented to the citizens of the partner countries.

During the project researchers want to ensure that public members are aware of the impact of their actions and activities on the Baltic Sea, as well as consider what they can do to improve the condition of the Baltic Sea. People from the selected pilot areas will be able to participate in various project activities, and gather topical information through the social media. The results of WATERCHAIN and previous studies will be compiled in an interactive handbook including practical instructions to build and use cost-effective filtering systems for reduction of hazardus substances and nutrient inflow in the Baltic Sea. Researchers expect that the project will promote a positive long term impact on the Baltic Sea ecology.

A comprehensive research on the Daugava River basin

In Latvia, the researchers from the Institute for Environmental Solutions and Riga Technical University will carry out a comprehensive study on the water bodies within the Daugava River basin in Latvia – Daugava Hydropower Plant, Jugla, Ķīšezers, Lielais Baltezers and Mazais Baltezers lakes.  The Daugava River of all the rivers in Latvia brings the biggest amount of inflows in the Baltic Sea. Unfortunatelly, there is a lack of comprehensive scientific information concerning the ecological status and nutrient content in Daugava. Integrating traditional aquatic science methods with modern remote sensing Earth observation, researchers will measure the spread and concentration of nutrients within the pilot water bodies. On the basis of research results, efficient and environmentally friendly filtering systems will be developed to use for reduction of pollution in the Baltic Sea.

The satellite image showing the algae bloom intensity in the Daugava Hydropower Plant

To develop unified and sustainable system for improvement of the Baltic Sea ecological status in the future, similar research studies and experiments will be carried out in all partner countries. As a result of WATERCHAIN project best practices that could be applied throughout the Baltic Sea region will be developed. It is expected that by 2026 outflow of nutrients and hazardous substances form pilot watersheds flowing in the Baltic Sea will be reduced. The improvement of the Baltic Sea ecological status will be a positive effect on aquatic ecosystems and its natural inhabitants, as well as quality of life for people living in the vicinity of the Baltic Sea.

WATERCHAIN project is financed by the European Union Central Baltic programme. Project is coordinated by Satakunta University of Applied Sciences/ WANDER Nordic Water and Materials Institute, and in Latvia by Institute for Environmental Solutions and Riga Technical University.

Find more information in the project website

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