Wastewater treatment in Ukraine and Belarus needs urgent improvement

The municipal and industrial wastewater treatment at the city of Lvov in Ukraine, and Brest, Grodno and Vitebsk in Belarus need to be improved urgently, according to a Baltic marine protection organisation.

The Helsinki Commission (Helcom) stated that the sewer system in the city of Lvov is in bad condition and needs renovation to avoid groundwater pollution, but noted that a US$40 million project (€40.5 million) is expected to start in the near future and will focus on the city’s discharges.

Meanwhile in Belarus, wastewater treatment plants in Grodno, Brest and Vitebsk are overloaded or run down due to lack of maintenance. Projects are in preparation and it is hoped that funding will soon be found.

One cause of the region’s water woes is the very low price of water in these countries, says Helcom. A price as low as US$0.02 is not unusual, and often results in a consumption of 300 to 350 litres per person each day – twice as high as in most western European countries. Not only would higher prices lower consumption, they would also provide funding for investment, operation and day-to-day maintenance of wastewater treatment plants.

Finally, Helcom is also concerned over the unsafe storage of obsolete pesticides in the region. According to the State Administration of Ecology and Natural Resources in Lvov, 620 tonnes of obsolete pesticides are stored in the region, of which only 120 tonnes are in appropriate containers.

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