Under the leadership of the Ministry of the Environment, a comprehensive project to improve the status of water bodies has started in Ida-Viru and Lääne-Viru counties. Within the next 10 years, the LIFE IP CleanEST project will improve the status of the water bodies and will analyse ways to improve their status. The project covers a total of 240,000 hectares, comprising a total of 574 km of watercourses and approximately 160,000 hectares of coastal waters.
According to Rene Kokk, the Minister of the Environment, this is the first large-scale and integrated initiative to improve the status of water bodies in Ida-Viru and Lääne-Viru counties. “We want to bring life back to these water bodies where it has been severely damaged by human activity. The start of the pollution of the water bodies covered by the project dates partly back to the first decades of the last century. I am confident that in a few years these places are in a much more beautiful and lively state,” said the Minister.
According to Harry Liiv, the Deputy Secretary General of the Ministry of the Environment, the work will be carried out in stages. In 2020, the focus will be on conducting surveys related to and developing mitigation measures for the Soolikaoja creek passing through Rakvere City, securing the residual pollution at the former Kohtla-Nõmme tyre factory, developing and testing a cleaning technology at the residual pollution site of Pahnimägi, as well as pre-designing the Püssi dam to ensure fish migration opportunities and conducting preparatory activities for cleaning the River Erra.
“Together with our partners, we have begun preparing for the removal of residual pollution from the bed and banks of a 1.5 km stretch of the River Erra. “The pitch at the bottom of the River Erra is at times half a meter thick. Once the pollution has been removed, the cleaned areas will be levelled and the river habitats will be restored,”noted Liiv.
As a result of CleanEST, approximately 1,200 tonnes of oily waste and contaminated soil will also be removed from the site of the former Kohtla-Nõmme tyre repair factory. In addition to the cleaning of water bodies and the elimination of residual pollution, spawning grounds for fish are restored in the rivers of Viru County. During the 10 years, salmon and brown trout fry will be regularly relocated to clean river stretches with the aim of creating self-sustaining salmon populations.
CleanEST is also a pilot project that sets a precedent as it explores whether and how water treatment options can be applied to other sites both in Estonia and Europe.
Based on the practical experience gained during the project, the conclusions of the surveys and the results of monitoring, the options for renewing the measures of the water management plans will also be analysed.
The LIFE IP CleanEST project will run for 10 years and will cost almost 16.7 million euros. 60% of the project is financed by the European Commission, while Estonia finances 40% via the Environmental Investment Centre and the state budget. The leading partner of the project is the Ministry of the Environment. Other project partners are the Environmental Board, Environment Agency, Environmental Inspectorate, Estonian Environmental Research Centre, Information Technology Centre of the Ministry of the Environment, Geological Survey of Estonia, Ministry of Rural Affairs, Tallinn University of Technology, Estonian University of Life Sciences, Science Centre AHHAA, Estonian Public Broadcasting, State Forest Management Centre, Estonian Chamber of Agriculture and Commerce, Rakvere City, Narva City, Alutaguse rural municipality, Lüganuse rural municipality, Viru-Nigula rural municipality, Vinni rural municipality, Kadrina rural municipality, Väike-Maarja rural municipality, Union of Ida-Virumaa County Municipalities and foreign partner NGO Rivers Trust.
You can watch a vido about this project HERE
Integrated water project
LIFE IP CleanEST of Viru sub-basin
Within 10 years, the following will be carried out in Ida-Viru and Lääne-Viru counties
• surface, ground and coastal water surveys will be conducted
• the bed and banks of a 1.5 km stretch of the River Erra will be cleaned
• residual pollution will be removed from Kohtla-Nõmme and Pahnimägi
• spawning grounds for fish will be restored in rivers
• fish passages will be restored
• the River Purtse will be repopulated with salmon