Natural water quality in St. Petersburg and Leningrad Oblast: problems and solutions

Submitted by Любовь Самылова on Thu, 08/12/2021 - 15:40

That was the subject of the interregional seminar, organized by Friends of the Baltica on June 25 in St. Petersburg. The participants, including representatives of St. Petersburg Committee for Nature Use, Committee for Natural Resources of the Leningrad Region, Rosselkhoznadzor, Nature Protection Prosecutor's Office of St. Petersburg, public organizations, activists, teachers and journalists discussed the results of research on springs and other water bodies of St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, the problem of registration, research and protection of springs, real and potential sources of biogenic pollution of water bodies and how to deal with them. One of the key areas of the workshop was the cooperation of the authorities and civil society to identify and solve water pollution problems.


Mikhail Strakhov, first deputy chairman of St. Petersburg Committee for Nature Management, told about peculiarities of water use in St. Petersburg and legal regulation in the field of protection of water bodies. There are 1087 water objects in the city: 633 water bodies and 454 water streams. 40 large water streams, including Neva River, enter the city from the territory of Leningrad Region, and their water quality depends on pollution incoming both in the region and in the city. The only source of drinking water supply in the city is the Neva River. Water is discharged into the public sewerage system of GUP Vodokanal St. Petersburg and direct outlets of other persons. In total there are 178 sewage treatment plants in the city. Strakhov noted the right points, which require regulation. For instance, it's important to raise the rates for water objects usage, to include the necessity of water use agreements for floating objects into the Water Code of the Russian Federation, to stipulate construction and modernization of purification facilities in the national projects "Clean Water" and "Preservation of Unique Natural Sites", because the quality of drinking water cannot be provided without reducing the anthropogenic impact on the water reservoir. Data on water quality in water bodies of St. Petersburg is presented on the Environmental Portal of St. Petersburg

Михаил Страхов

Rosalia Yusupova, leading specialist of the department of complex use of water resources of the Committee on Natural Resources of the Leningrad Region, presented a report on the quality of water bodies in the Leningrad Region. 23 rivers and 2 lakes are subject to state monitoring, in 90% of cases the level of pollution is maintained from year to year. Exceeding of MPC for the content of organic substances, copper, manganese, iron is determined by the natural background. Underflooding is monitored at 4 sites, including the Sestra River. Detailed annual reports on the state of the environment of the Leningrad Region are published on the Committee's website.

Розалия Юсупова


One of the key topics of the seminar was the problem of record-keeping, monitoring and protection of springs. "This is the topic we deepened during the work on the project "Clean Springs - Healthy Baltika" supported by the Presidential Grants Fund, - says Elena Gretchina, Project Manager of Friends of the Baltica, - during the project Friends of the Baltica together with partners from the North-Western PGO JSC studied 30 socially important springs of Saint-Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, which were selected as a result of work on the previous projects. Water was tested for 20 chemical and three microbiological indicators. 9 out of 30 springs were considered undrinkable twice, including 4 because of nitrates, which accumulate as a result of domestic and agricultural runoff. The springs studied are marked on the Map of Public Monitoring of Natural Waters (layer "Springs") and the map "Springs of the Leningrad region"

Елена Гретчина

Grigory Voronyuk and Irina Chernyavskaya, experts of the project "Clean Springs - Healthy Baltica", North-West PGO (Rosgeologiya Holding), provided analytical data on water quality in 259 springs examined during 4 years of the projects "Springs of the Leningrad region" and "Clean Springs - Healthy Baltica" and pointed out the importance of legal regulation of the status of springs. Every year, 50-60% of the springs were recognized as undrinkable. Excesses were observed both for anthropogenic reasons (the content of nitrates and oil products was higher than the norm) and due to natural factors (pH, total hardness, mineralization, total iron content was out of the norm). Water quality in springs is not constant and varies depending on natural conditions, and is sensitive to any pollution. Regular monitoring of water quality in springs is necessary.

Григорий Воронюк

Springs can be both sources of drinking water, sources of rivers, and valuable for tourism development natural and historical objects. According to Article 5 of the Water Code of the Russian Federation, springs belong to surface water bodies, and if they have a drip, they belong to underground water bodies. Data on water bodies are included in the State Water Registry, and then the objects can be included in the network of state monitoring. There are a number of provisions for transfer of information to the water registry, but interaction between departments and branches of power is not sufficiently effective on this issue. As noted by Marina Kazmina, acting head of the Nevsko-Ladozhskoye Water Basin Authority, only six springs in the Leningrad region are included in the water register on the basis of water use agreements, there are certain gaps in regulation of data entry of springs to the water register. For example, in the orders of the Ministry of Natural Resources of the Russian Federation there are no clear forms for entering information about springs. Proposals on regulation of legislation were developed by the participants of the round table in the Public Council under the Ministry of Nature and sent to key agencies. 

Since springs often remain without proper attention, the regions of Russia solve the issues of their protection in different ways. There are examples when residents themselves are active in entering information into the water registry, springs can be protected as natural monuments. In the Lomonosov district of the Leningrad region budget allocates funds for annual monitoring of 16 points: 8 most popular springs and 8 rivers. This was reported by Inna Marinkina, leading specialist of the department of nature management of the Administration of the Lomonosov district. Nitrates in water samples over the years have become less due to the decline of large-scale agriculture. Microbiological indicators are higher in places of mass housing construction. The organization of wastewater disposal in residential areas is advisory in nature, the lack of penalties for the lack of treatment affects the deterioration of water quality in water bodies. On this issue we addressed to the Legislative Assembly of the Leningrad region and found that there is a problem of federal regulation. 

Инна Маринкина

Legislative features and practice on protection of springs in the Republic of Belarus are interesting, which was presented by Andrei Pakhomenko, Director of the Ecological-Educational Institution "Ecostep". Thus, Article 52 of the Water Code of the Republic of Belarus specifies the size of the water protection zone of a spring - 50 m. The Water Code of the Russian Federation does not directly specify the size of water protection zones of springs (only for streams, rivers, lakes, seas - Article 65 of the Water Code of the Russian Federation). Improvement is not always good for a spring, small and large animals get into the mouthpiece and do not have the opportunity to get out, which affects water quality. A landscaped spring is not quite a natural object.

Андрей Пархоменко


One of the activities of Friends of the Baltic is to identify sources of biogenic pollution of water bodies and to inform residents of the region and the city about the possibilities of eliminating them. If pollution is detected, residents can write appeals to the Committee for State Environmental Supervision of the Leningrad Region, the Committee on Natural Resources of St. Petersburg, Rosprirodnadzor, Rosselkhoznadzor depending on the region, the status of the object, the type of impact. Semen Kalyadin, the assistant public prosecutor of St. Petersburg, told about the work with citizens' appeals. Water quality in Saint-Petersburg depends on water quality in the region, because large water streams come from the region. Main violations in St. Petersburg are discharges of waste water of enterprises-water users, water use without permissive documentation and restriction of access to the banks. In case of identification of these facts the St. Petersburg environmental prosecutor's office makes recommendations to eliminate violations of water legislation; sends statements of claim on obligation to take measures aimed at improving the quality of waste water to achieve the established standards of permissible discharge; sends materials of the inspection to address the issue of initiating an administrative offence under Art.  8.14 (violation of rules of water use), 8.33 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation (violation of rules of protection of biological resources). The Environmental Prosecutor's Office of St. Petersburg also takes measures to prevent violations, such as issuing warnings and legal education. 

Семён Калядин

Olga Alexeeva, the Head of the Land Supervision Department of the North-West Interregional Department of Rosselkhoznadzor, told that in the last 2 years the number of appeals from citizens concerning the handling of manure and dung on agricultural lands, pollution of which directly or indirectly affects the quality of water bodies has increased significantly. Rosselkhoznadzor is responsible for checking the facts of agricultural land pollution and issuing fines and instructions. Over six months, 15 violations were detected and fines amounting to 406 thousand rubles were imposed. The majority of complaints come from the Kirov, Vsevolozhsk, Vyborg, Luga and Gatchina districts. The process of eliminating violations takes up to 9 months.

Ольга Алексеева

The source of pollution of water bodies is sewage effluent. According to the data of Lenoblvodokanal State Unitary Enterprise the volume of the sewage currently discharged from the sewage treatment facilities of Lenoblvodokanal State Unitary Enterprise is 33 411 thousand cubic meters. Total amount of STP of GUP "Lenoblvodokanal" is about 200, significant amount of them is taken on the balance sheet of the enterprise in a non-operational state, broken-down or wholly or partially ruined. At present 4 modular sewage treatment plants are being installed in the following settlements: Goncharovo settlement of Vyborg district, Michurinskoye settlement of Priozersk district, Gromovo settlement of Priozersk district, Pekhenets village of Luga district. Reconstruction of the sewage treatment facilities in Staraya Sloboda, Lodeynopolsky raion, Podporozhye, Podporozhsky raion, and Krasnoselskoye, Vyborgsky raion. 

ROOZPPGBOS "Toksovo Lakes" and Public Movement "Chistaya Luga" presented their experience in protection of water bodies. Public organizations are the conduits between the citizens and the authorities, since the residents often apply there. As they are tied to a specific territory, such organizations are directly involved in solving its environmental problems. 

Чистая Луга

The possibility of river basin management within the framework of Public River Councils was outlined by Olga Senova, Director of Friends of the Baltics. Such Councils contribute to better interaction of different interested representatives of the public and authorities for environmental protection. The participants were interested in creation of such councils in their territories.

Detailed information on the peculiarities of water quality in St. Petersburg and Leningrad Region as well as methods of preventing and eliminating biogenic water pollution is presented in the brochure "Water Quality Depends on Us: Practical Advice".


Representatives from different sectors learned from each other and shared their experience and expertise in research and protection of water bodies. The workshop served as a platform for exchange of views and enrichment of information, building further cooperation on water protection issues. The participants-educators were inspired by new research, and NGOs established contacts with each other and with authorities. The participants learned how to include water bodies into the water register for further protection, how to complain about pollution from livestock waste, and in which cases to apply to the Nature Protection Prosecutor's Office. As a result of the seminar requests will be sent to the Nevsko-Ladozhskoye Water Basin Authority and the North-West Department of the Rospotrebnadzor of the Leningrad region on the issues of registration and protection of springs and further work with the participants will be planned.  

The seminar was organized within the framework of the project "Clean Springs - Clean Rivers - Healthy Baltic - Healthy People" supported by the Presidential Grant Foundation and jointly with the project "Water Unites People: Learn, Act, Cooperate" (SEVIRA) under the Russia-Finland cross-border cooperation program and the Belarus-Russia Water Program of the Clean Baltic Coalition.