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Sustainable wastewater purification in Estonian small municipalities (Estwaste)
Date du début: 1 janv. 2002, Date de fin: 31 déc. 2005 PROJET  TERMINÉ 

Background Currently most of the wastewater purification systems in Estonian small municipalities do not work or work in an unsatisfactory way. The nitrogen (N) and phosphorus (P) which are discharged as pollutants in the lakes and rivers present a serious environmental problem not only in Estonia but also in the neighbouring countries. According to Estonian laws, the content of N and P in purified water has to be reduced over the next few years. Instead of conventional chemical procedures a more sustainable method, i.e. vegetation filters, could be used to purify the wastewater. Besides a more efficient use of natural resources, the latter method is also potentially more economical. Furthermore, the establishment of sustainable wastewater purification system could give employment to the rural population. The production of vegetation filters could also be used as a local renewable source of energy. Objectives The main aims of the project were: (1) to design and build alternative wastewater treatment system prototypes (willow plantations, mechanical treatment plants and reservoir ponds for wastewater storage) in three small municipalities (Vohnja, Kihlevere and Kambja) in Estonia and (2) presenting the sustainable (cost-effective) waste water purifying system as a way for solving local environmental/energy supply problems in Estonia. Results The project achieved its main objectives - three wastewater purification systems were established in two rural communities, Kadrina in Northern Estonia (villages of Kihlevere and Vohnja) and Kambja in southern Estonia. The specific innovation of the project lay in the use of willow plantations as vegetable filters, (alders and poplars were tested as well). The WWPS are functional and their future sustainability has been secured. In two of the prototypes, the water quality in the outflow met the limits set for Nitrogen and Phosphorus according to Estonian legislation; the third site could not be monitored due to shortage of water. The use of willow plantations as vegetable filters decreases the cost of the third (chemical) stage of the wastewater purification system. This should enable small municipalities to operate their wastewater purification systems much more cost-effectively. The project has great multiplication capacity. The project had successful dissemination activities at different levels and target groups (local schoolchildren; environmental authorities; national policy-making, international networking especially in the academic community) and the beneficiary has worked to ensure the continuity of the activities after the project has ended. The benefits of the project should become clearly evident through time; continued research and development has been guaranteed by afterLIFE activities.


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