Lithuanian housing association wins Baltic water prize

The Lithuanian Housing and Urban Development Foundation (HUDF) has won the Swedish Baltic Sea Water Award for assisting in substantially reducing the country’s organic pollution to the Baltic Sea.

The HUDF, established by the Lithuanian Ministry of Finance, has taken an overarching approach to reduce pollution loads in large parts of Lithuania, says the Stockholm International Water Institute (SIWI), the awarding body, which also presents the International Water Prize every August (see related story and related story). HUDF has contributed to developing and co-ordinating local municipal competence in wastewater treatment whilst also obtaining finance from international agencies including the Nordic Investment Bank, European Investment Bank, World Bank and aid agencies from several Scandinavian countries for the development of water and wastewater works. The country’s organic pollution to the Baltic Sea has fallen from 1,500 tonnes ever year to 100 tonnes per year, largely with the help of HUDF.

The organisation has also contributed to implementing 20 municipal environmental infrastructure projects, six district heating projects and 121 energy efficiency projects.

HUDF’s policies also include communicating the issues to other stakeholders, such as through brochures, a quarterly newsletter, articles in local newspapers, presentations at conferences and workshops.

On example of HUDF’s success is the town of Ignalina in the east of the country, whose original wastewater treatment plant was old and failed to meet discharge standards, polluting the local area, including the Aukstaitija National Park. The Foundation enabled the construction of a new plant, removing the problem.

The award will be presented to HUDF’s Managing Director, Aloyzas Vitkauskas in August in conjunction with the Stockholm Water Symposium and the World Water Week. HUDF wins SEK100,000 (€10,900), and a crystal sculpture.

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