The Baltic Water Works Conference was held in Palanga, Lithuania, on 23–25 May 2018. This annual event bring together water associations, operators and specialists in the water sector of the Baltic States with hosts rotating each year among the three states’ water associations. This year the main discussion topics included drinking water risk assessment, changes in the legislation, sludge treatment and sharing of experiences in the operation of water and wastewater networks.
The first day of the event was devoted to presenting products and companies operating in the region. Speakers introduced solutions for monitoring water microbiology, leakage detection, automating the treatment process, as well as various innovative and high-quality equipment for water and wastewater treatment plants.
The second day opened with an overview of the drinking water supply and wastewater management services from the Lithuanian Ministry of Environment. The speaker introduced the system of how these services are approached and governed in the country. Financial resources required for the development of these sectors come from three sources: EU funding, national and local budgets. The Lithuanian state is setting the requirements for the water quality and agglomerations by developing legislation. Further, the responsibility of local governments is to plan the developments and ensure the availability of the service, whereas water companies can arrange individual solutions.
Presentations throughout the day highlighted experience and examples from three Baltic countries. For example, Estonia introduced its management plans for sewage sludge. Estonia is currently at a crossroad when it comes to handling of and giving value to sewage sludge, and needs to decide whether to promote composting, incineration, drying, or a combination of all these solutions. Once the solution is confirmed, the question arises of who should deal with the sludge – is it a water company, a waste management company, or a waste management centre? It can be challenging to create a unified waste management centre, as water companies would need to pay the gate fee to cover daily operational expenses of running such centre.
Cooperation in the water sector was also presented through the value of transnational projects, such as BEST – Better Efficiency for Industrial Sewage Treatment. This project, which IWAMA cooperates now in the newly launched project BSR Water Platform, BEST focusing on the subject of industrial wastewater treatment. The project identifies three ways for handling industrial wastewaters:
- by treating industrial wastewater at the company site (industry's own treatment works) and then discharging into the environment;
- by pre-treating industrial wastewater at the company site and then directing it to the municipal wastewater treatment plant for further treatment;
- by treating industrial wastewater at the company site and then redirecting it to the process.
With all local and global challenges faced by the water sector, it is important to keep the region updated in technological innovations and legislative changes. The Baltic Water Works Conference is in this sense a great stage for exchange of practical experiences in the Baltic region.