9 Jul 2012

International financing to help clean Lake Onega

The Finnish and Russian governments, together with the Petrozavodsk Communal Utilities Systems (PKS) and a group of international financial institutions, have, today, signed a EUR 32 million investment package, which is intended to finance the improvement of drinking water quality and the reduction of untreated wastewater being discharged into Lake Onega in Northwestern Russia.

PKS is currently implementing an investment programme, which is intended to improve drinking water quality and upgrade the wastewater treatment facilities in Petrozavodsk, a city of some 270,000 inhabitants, which is situated on the western shores of Lake Onega. The public utility processes around 145,000 cubic metres of wastewater per day.

The investment package will finance recycling and dewatering of sludge generated in the drinking water plant and modernise the wastewater treatment plant by introducing a bio-chemical process. These measures are expected to result in an annual decrease of 60 tonnes of phosphorus discharges into Lake Onega.

The setup of the investment package has been coordinated by the Nordic Environment Finance Corporation (NEFCO) that provides a EUR 4 million loan for the project. A loan from international the Nordic Investment Bank (NIB) totals EUR 7 million. Other financing includes a EUR 5 million grant from the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership Programme (NDEP) and a EUR 2 million grant from the Finnish Ministry of the Environment. The contribution of Russia’s federal government, the government of the Republic of Karelia and PKS amounts to EUR 14 million.

The Barents Euro-Arctic Council (BEAC) has identified Petrozavodsk as one of the environmental hot spots in the region because of the insufficient treatment of wastewater being discharged into Lake Onega. Lake Onega belongs to the Baltic Sea catchment area and the international Baltic Marine Environment Commission (HELCOM) has been keen to promote investment in wastewater treatment infrastructure and facilities in the region.

“Concrete cooperation between neighbours is the best solution in saving our waters. This may require time and effort from all the parties, but can also result in frameworks that can offer models for water management cooperation elsewhere”, says Mr Ville Niinistö, Finland’s Minister of the Environment.

NIB is a multilateral financial institution owned by eight member countries: Denmark, Estonia, Finland, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Norway and Sweden. The Bank finances private and public projects in and outside the member countries. NIB has the highest possible credit rating, AAA/Aaa, with the leading rating agencies Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s.

For further information, please contact:

Ministry of the Environment of Finland

Kirsi Kentta, Senior Officer, +358 50 362 2052,

NEFCO

Kari Homanen, Vice President, +358 50 311 1047,

NIB

Dimitrijs Alehins, Senior Communications Specialist, +358 40 533 8779,