10 Oct 2013

NIB-financed project increases St Petersburg effluent cleaning to 98%

On 10 October, the Northern Tunnel Collector—a 12-kilometre sewerage main system—was launched in St Petersburg, Russia. The project is helping to increase the volume of wastewater treatment in the city to 98%, which is a huge leap from a few years ago.

The Northern Tunnel Collector is designed to collect effluent from an area with a population of about two million people. The collector is a complex system of two parallel 4-metre wide tunnels, embedded at the depth of 40–90 metres, six kilometres of smaller tunnels and 64 shafts.

One of the shafts is equipped with a unique pumping station that is technically the most challenging part of the whole project and has no comparison in the world. The water and wastewater utility company Vodokanal of St Petersburg involved the best available scientists and engineers to design and construct the station.

The new facility closes up about 400 points of direct discharge of untreated sewage with a total volume of 334,000 cubic metres a day. This is comparable to the effect of launching the South-Western Wastewater Treatment Plant in St Petersburg in 2005 (330,000 cubic metres a day). Before the collector was built, this volume of untreated sewage ended up in the River Neva and the Gulf of Finland, while only 85% of the city’s wastewater was cleansed and sanitised.

“Closing the remaining discharge of untreated wastewater in St Petersburg is a great achievement and NIB is honoured to be part of it,” said Thomas Wrangdahl, NIB’s First Vice-President and Head of Lending at the inauguration of the collector.

“The city is now fulfilling the strict international standards in the area of effluent treatment set by HELCOM, which will hopefully let the Baltic Sea improve the health of its marine environment.”

In 2009, NIB and the city’s water utility Vodokanal of St Petersburg signed a EUR 25 million loan agreement for the construction of the collector. NIB was also a lead bank in structuring the international financing for the project under the umbrella of the Northern Dimension Environmental Partnership (NDEP), which coordinates the financing of urgent environmental investments in Northwest Russia.

The overall investment in building the collector totalled EUR 563 million, of which more than 80% was covered with federal, the city’s and Vodokanal’s own resources. The pool of the international financing contributed EUR 60 million in loans from NIB, the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the European Investment Bank, as well as EUR 24 million in a grant from the NDEP Fund and EUR 17 million in additional bilateral grants.

The environmental effect of the programme will be based on removing 860 tonnes of phosphorus, 1,060 tonnes of nitrogen and 6,980 tonnes of BOD every year from St Petersburg's wastewater discharges into the Baltic Sea.