Water

2.2. State of the Baltic Sea

Aim: The session addresses solutions aiming at improving the state of the Baltic Sea by focusing on nutrient questions and risks. The examples include best practices of managing water bodies and river basin management, involvement and agricultural solutions. The solutions showcase how the measures have helped to improve the state of the Baltic and how the resources and money have been used.

Facilitator: Saara Bäck, Environment Councellor, Ministry of Environment, Finland
Rapporteur: Samu Numminen, Project Planner, Pro-Archipelago Sea - programme, South-West Finland Centre for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment

The EU Water framework Directive - present situation

Situation with the EU Water framework Directive in the Baltic Sea Region. Comparison between Baltic Sea countries. Possible challenges.
Saara Bäck, Environment Councellor, Ministry of Environment, Finland

Model as a tool for effective protection and management of waters

The presentation introduces a new tool for defining nutrient loads and finding the most effective and cost efficient solutions for reaching the good status of water bodies. Experiences from the use of the model.
Bertel Vehviläinen, Chief Hydrologists, Finnish Environmental Institute

Importance of participatory approach and cooperation in the implementation of the Water framework directive

The importance of broad participation and cooperation in order to reach efficient, cost effective and sustainable solutions. Examples of participatory actions from the Baltic Sea Region.
Osmo Purhonen, Assistant Manager, South-West Finland Center for Economic Development, Transport and the Environment

Practial water management solutions

Cases introduce reduction of nutrient load from agriculture and multiple benefits of reed management
Kaisa Riiko, TEHO-project, Agricultural Expert, Finland and Arvo Kullapere, Ministry of Environment, Estonia

Summary of parallel session 2.2 State of the Baltic Sea

Presentations:

Pekka Paavilainen: The EU Water framework Directive - present situation

Session theme and the aim of the session were presented. Pekka Paavilainen presented the background information regarding the water framework directive (WFD). Europe's waters are threatened by different human activities. Waters know no borders, and thus an integrated water management approach from regional to international level is needed. About 20 % of surface waters are at serious risk from pollution and almost half of the EU population lives in water-stressed countries. Catchment area approach is central, as the WFD aims at achieving a good status of the waters in the near future. Finnish situation regarding the state of the waters was presented, as were hindrances and challenges for achieving good water status. More resources are needed in order to achieve the WFD goals.

Bertel Vehviläinen: Model as a tool for effective protection and management of waters

Understanding how water and nutrients behave in the physical system is a key issue in improving the state of the waters. Mathematical modelling is a tool for promoting this understanding, and nutrient loads can be simulated by using a watershed simulation and forecasting system which is based on the hydrological cycle. The system can be applied widely to river basins and lakes and it can also be used for assessing impacts of water management measures. The nutrient load has big yearly variations, and it is hard to tell from figures alone whether the water-improving activities have positive results. Different models can be combined to take into consideration different aspects of physical features, land use, nutrient loads, weather etc. The models are developed all the time and new elements and information are added to them.

Osmo Purhonen: Importance of participatory approach and cooperation in the implementation of the Water framework directive

There is a 10-year tradition of regional cooperation regarding water management in Southwest Finland, and it has been seen as an effective way to activate regional and local organizations. It is important that the cooperation has been supported by the key actors in the region. Along with the increased cooperation itself, main achievements have included some 70 water management projects that have been carried out by partners in the Pro Saaristomeri network and forum. A big challenge is keeping up the work by motivating people and organizations.

Kaisa Riiko and Arvo Kullapere: Practial water management solutions

In the TEHO project agricultural water protection measures were studied and applied on a wide scale in co-operation with environmental authorities, farmers' unions and farmers. The aim of the project has been to reduce agricultural nutrient load to the waters with the focus on efficient nutrient utilisation from ecological and economical point of view. The phosphorus balance in cultivated areas has improved lately, which is mainly due to a decrease in artificial fertilizer use. Another focus has been year-round vegetation and its effect on agricultural runoff. Regarding this, a model on the erosion risk is being made. The focus of the project is on the farm level, and it has produced a customized environmental handbook for each of the participating farmers. The handbook includes basic and information about the soil etc. on the farm and gives tailored proposals regarding farm-level water protection measures.

Reed is an important resource on the Estonian west coast. Reed can get too thick for wildlife, and the overgrowth causes other problems as well. There is a strategy for reed use in Matsalu, in which forms of use for reed in different areas has been defined. Some areas are defined for nature protection, and reed is not utilised there. Reed areas can be used in many ways; for example animal grazing, burning for energy or cutting it for building material. Removal of reed provides possibilities for coastal wader and frog populations to survive and grow. Removal of reed removes also nutrients from the coastal ecosystem, so reed management also provides a means for water protection. The use of reed in construction (roofs) is becoming more and more popular.

In the panel discussion main challenges for water protection were discussed. Activating the public was seen as one important thing, and it was also discussed whether climate change will have negative effects on implemented measures. The wise use of nutrients is a key issue also from an economic point of view, and coastal biodiversity must also be protected and maintained as a buffer for the effects of eutrophication. Good practices should be distributed more effectively for example through the work of HELCOM etc. Both human and financial resources are needed for water management, and this should be a joint and simultaneous effort from all of the countries around the Baltic Sea. Networks exist in many sectors and are already utilised, but it would be beneficial to have even more frequent meetings and seminars. There is a lot of good political will around improving the state of the Baltic Sea, of which for example the EU Strategy for the Baltic Sea is an indication.