Sewage treatment: Cleaning up the Dirt

Thirty years ago, it was hard to imagine that St. Petersburg would be at the forefront in the attempts to save the environment of the Baltic Sea – there were no sewage treatment plants in the city until 1978! Local ecologists were convinced that the Neva River would dissolve the sewage and clean itself before the effluents got to the Gulf of Finland. Over 3 million cubic meters of wastewater were dumped in the river every day.

However, it soon became clear that the river system could not clean itself up so quickly. In order to prevent further pollution of the Neva and its tributaries, Leningrad – as St. Petersburg was known during the Soviet era – decided to construct a sewerage disposal system.

The first one was the Central Wastewater Treatment Plant on Bely (White) Island. It was built to treat sewage from the central districts of Leningrad. The Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant was later put into operation in order to manage the northern and north-western districts of the city.

The most recent is the South-Western Wastewater Treatment Plant, completed in 2005. After its commissioning, over 85% of all wastewater in St. Petersburg was treated. The Main Sanitary Sewer launched in 2008 collects the waste of the north-eastern districts, delivering it for processing at the Northern Wastewater Treatment Plant. The total proportion of wastewater treated in St. Petersburg reached 95% by 2011.

A lot is yet to be done: a sanitary sewer to be constructed along the Okhta River, and several dumping outputs to be installed on the Main Sanitary Sewer. Thus, by 2015, St. Petersburg will treat 98% of its wastewater. Such a percentage has never before been attained in large cities with populations of several million residents.

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