IWAMA logo Interreg Baltic Sea Region EU logo Flagship logo

IWAMA project started back in March 2016 – with ambitious goals and results we wanted to achieve to improve the state of the Baltic Sea, yet with a Flagship status to sustain.

After three intensive years of joint implementation of activities in ten countries (March 2016 – April 2019), testing and learning from each other, we are extremely happy and proud to share a wide collection of produced outputs with our colleagues in the region. Equipped with strong partnership enthusiastic to bring the change to their workplace and the region; with a steadily expanding pool of external stakeholders closely involved in cooperation we are ready to overcome water challenges across the borders.

What have we developed in these three years, on the roadmap from the Kick-off in the mid-summer to the mid-winter Final Conference?

Investments in most efficient technology

IWAMA project piloted seven investments focusing on efficiency and optimisation of energy and sludge management. All investments are innovative in their nature and provide new solutions for sludge humification and drying, reject-water treatment, energy balance, optimized process operation and mass flow management.

Since significant amount of municipal energy use occurs at the wastewater treatment facilities with pumps, motors and other equipment operating continuously around the year, wastewater treatment plants can be among the largest consumers of energy in cities and thus among the largest contributors to the greenhouse gases emissions. These aspects can be however addressed by improving the energy efficiency of wastewater facilities´ equipment and operations by e.g. capturing the energy in wastewater and sludge to generate energy and heat. Capturing the energy in wastewater by burning biogas from anaerobic digesters in a combined heat and power system allows wastewater facilities to produce all their own electricity and space heating, turning them into net zero consumers of energy or in most advanced cases on surplus.

IWAMA partners had an opportunity for improving energy efficiency and sludge management in their facilities through various equipment upgrades and operational modifications including:

Pilot investments as well as many other most recent and replicable good practices, technical solutions and tools can be found in the online portal for water experts Baltic Smart Water Hub. The Hub was launched in the framework of the IWAMA project to support knowledge sharing and ease the free access to the best available technology in the field. Content of the Hub covers broad array of water-related issues grouped in four categories: waste-, storm-, fresh- and seawater. Through the demonstrated cases, Hub users can find ideas for investments, solutions to similar challenges and tools to use in the daily work.

Energy and sludge audit to ensure maximum efficiency

When wastewater treatment plants are not operating efficiently, it can be extremely costly. The combination of ineffective process equipment, outdated management practices and lack of structured learning programs for employees can result in much higher operating costs and lower revenue, which in turn withholds organisation’s development and investment potential. An energy and sludge audit helps the facility identify and target the most inefficient aspects of its operations.

Therefore, wastewater treatment plant operators should regularly analyse their wastewater treatment performance and ensure systems are operating with the most efficient equipment and technology.

Audit tool for smart energy management and Audit tool for smart sludge management ensure the effectiveness of the processes applied at wastewater treatment plants and outline the potential for improvements. The audit tools provide an opportunity for operators to perform self-auditing at their wastewater treatment plant, and thereby enhance the energy efficiency of the treatment, improve sludge handling, and detect measures for both short and long-term improvement of the processes.

The audit tools analyse efficiency and feasibility of smart energy and sludge management considering full process analysis, on-site energy measurements, sludge handling technology, energy and chemical consumption or automatic calculations of operational parameters. First energy and sludge management audits supporting development of the tools were performed at nine wastewater treatment plants in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Germany.

The audits on sludge management revealed that there is a large amount of waste activated sludge produced in the Baltic Sea Region. Waste activated sludge contains variety of pollutants (heavy metals, pharmaceuticals, pathogens) and nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorous). In order to reduce the flow of pollutants into water bodies and to promote recycling of nutrients, it is essential to support smart sludge management in the region.

The uniform and thorough audit concept developed in IWAMA is tailored-made for the Baltic Sea Region and considers regional and technological peculiarities, which increases the potential of practical application of the tool. Based on achieved results, WWTP staff can obtain knowledge about important operational parameters and possibilities for the improvement of the process. Plants can benefit from the enhancement of sludge management, as it leads to lower energy consumption, higher energy production and reduces loads of hazardous substances and nutrients in the effluent.

Benchmarking with peers in the region

Benchmarking has become a key practice in the wastewater sector. It helps operators to determine the baseline performance of their plant and set realistic performance targets.

IWAMA developed two comparative benchmarks: in smart energy and sludge management. With more than 65 plants from 9 countries contributing to this output, the benchmarks provide good reference to the regional situation and technical details of the processes applied in the Baltic Sea Region taking into account energy consumption, effluent quality parameters, treatment efficiency and overall sludge treatment situation in the region. The results of the benchmarking are available in a form of user-friendly reports offering the opportunity to calculate respective values and compare them to others.

Benchmarking of the status of wastewater treatment plants helps in detecting possible performance gaps that can be further improved. Large deviations from the regional average indicate a demand for a detailed audit identifying the potentials for optimization in the treatment process. For this purpose, two self-audit tools were developed in the project.

Capacity development and lifelong learning tools for improved operations

Lifelong learning is recognized as a crucial force in the process of improving the capacity of operators of wastewater treatment plants. Providing equal opportunities for continuous education in this vastly progressing field is of utmost importance. To be as efficient as possible, advanced technology needs to be managed by skilled operators.

Lifelong learning is particularly essential to allow plants optimize operation of the existing facilities, integrating new technologies and move to more energy efficient systems. Project launched several lifelong learning tools supporting sustainable increase of skills and competencies of wastewater experts: WWTP game, Interactive Moodle-based training package with the virtual testing, and the Report on lifelong learning opportunities and challenges in the BSR. These tools are based on experts’ knowledge and practical experiences acquired during technical study visits, and promote the idea of lifelong learning as voluntary and self-motivated experience with the possibility for testing of individual skills. The tools include the option of collecting data, which in turn can be utilized for further development of lifelong learning facilities.

  • The report on lifelong learning in the wastewater treatment sector of the Baltic Sea Region describes current situation in this sphere, IWAMA activities aimed at improving it, and is supported by the State of the Art Reports on WWT sector from different countries in the region.
  • Interactive training Moodle-based facilities incorporate educational tools for improving capacity of WWT operators and young professionals of the sector.
  • Online WWTP game is launched as an attractive educational method teaching the wastewater treatment technologies and practices.


All project outputs can be found on the designated page.