house on the shore

Piloting in the sparsely populated area – experiences from VillageWaters

The VillageWaters Project was launched to identify and propose the most effective wastewater treatment solutions for sparsely populated area households using independent water purification systems. The main objective of the project was to help households reduce operational costs when shifting to improved wastewater treatment, and thus to encourage them to implement the new treatment systems.

Sparsely populated areas are the third largest source of diffuse nutrient loads into the Baltic Sea. The European legislation aims to improve the status of the water bodies in the EU, so the VillageWaters project took up the challenge of finding cost‐effective and environmentally friendly wastewater treatment solutions for sparsely populated area households unconnected to urban wastewater plants.

The project involved 5 countries: Estonia, Finland, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, and each country hosted one or two project pilots with these solutions. The size of the pilots varied from one household to 200 citizens village. Some villages already had wastewater treatment systems installed, albeit not performing efficiently. Renewal of the systems was needed to improve the quality of local lakes and rivers and thus also to minimize effluents to the Baltic Sea.

The first step of the piloting was not planning or construction – instead, it was awareness raising. Several information events were organized with local citizens, where project members introduced the project and together with locals discussed the pilot construction plans. They explained to the local population how the project would improve the local life and what benefits would it bring. Citizens were very keen on the project activities and, of course, looking forward to better water environment in future.

The project proceeded with piloting and compared potential wastewater treatment systems for the best fit based on economic, social and environmental aspects. The resulting data was published in one of the project outputs – the Information Tool, an application helping households and village communities in sparsely populated areas to find effective wastewater treatment solutions. The Tool is available in seven languages: English, Estonian, Finnish, Latvian, Lithuanian, Polish and Swedish. Take a brief look to learn what you can do in the Information Tool and what are the clear benefits to plan and install wastewater treatment systems for your household: Introduction animation

Several pilots were published in the Hub. Learn more about: