Background of the Region
The North Baltic Water District extends from the Dal River in the north to Bråviken in the south, and from Kilsbergen in the West to the archipelago in the east. In terms of area, the water district is the smallest in Sweden, but with its 2.9 million inhabitants, it has the largest population around the Mälaren Valley. The Mälaren Valley, which was never defined as an official region, has been shared throughout the Swedish history by several provinces — Uppland, Södermanland, Västmanland, and Närke — and, in modern times, by several counties — Stockholm, Uppsala, Södermanland, Örebro, and Västmanland. In most cases, the Lake Hjälmaren region is included into the Mälaren Valley Region, if nothing else, for historical and cultural reasons.
Notwithstanding this, most people in Sweden will have a clear notion of what characterises the Mälaren Valley, while few of them will be able to define what those characteristics are precisely. Arguably, this is because the region is not only homogeneous and has been so for many centuries, but it also have had a tremendous influence on shared Swedish history and therefore never had to define its symbols or accentuate its distinctive features.
During the late 19th and early 20th centuries when modern Swedish nationalism evolved, traits conceived as typical Swedish were more often than not characteristics of the Mälaren Valley. For example, the Falu red cottage with white corners, often iterated as a traditional Swedish building style, is common in the Mälaren Valley, but would stand out on the Swedish west coast. One of the distinctive features of the region is its many large mansions — one of the finest surviving examples, the World Heritage Site Engelsberg Ironworks in the north-west corner of the region, is thought of as representative for Sweden in general.
Large parts of the North Baltic Water District are characterized by the impact human activities have brought about, and the effects can be read in the conditions of the aquatic environments.
The introduction of the EU water framework directive into Swedish legislation in 2004 meant a new holistic approach to water issues, and a water authority was created to coordinate the work on preserving and improving the quality of our water in accordance with the directive. Water is our most important provision and a condition for all life. There is a shortage of water in many parts of the world, but in Sweden we have the opposite – water in abundance. Our climate provides us with precipitation in the form of rain and snow so that there is enough water for us all. But access to clean water is not a given, even in Sweden. Protecting and preserving our water requires purposive work over the long term.
The Västmanland County Administrative Board is the water authority for the North Baltic Water District. The water authority is working to achieve adequate water quality for all aquatic environments and to ensure water resources for all possible needs. The work is being carried out in collaboration between agencies and other entities concerned. This collaboration is a condition for putting through substantive measures and sustainable overall solutions.
The most important water resource in this region is the basin of lake Malaren which is Sweden’s third largest lake and has an its main outlet is Norrström having an average water of over 160 cubic meters per second. Six counties and 50 municipalities are located in the Mälaren basin. The Malaren valley constitute in economic terms the fastest growing region in Sweden and Stockholm the European city with the highest population growth rate (11 % the coming 5 years).
The role of water in the Malaren basin
Lake Malaren – an important source of drinking water
Lake Malaren provides drinking water for more than two million people through eight major water plants and some 20 smaller plants. The socket for the drinking water supply is roughy 8 m3/s.
Emissions in Lake Malaren
Mälaren is the recipient for the various types of emissions. A volume represents just over 5% of the water leaving Lake Malaren through Norrstrom supplied through municipal wastewater treatment plants, storm water and industries. This represents for Swedish conditions an intensive exploitation rate. The population growth taking place in the Lake Mälaren region represents a further supply of pollution if no action is taken. When it comes to nutrients, the majority of them derive from farmland which are mainly found along river valleys and lake in the vicinity. The municipal treatment plants account for a relatively large proportion of nitrogen supply (about 25%) to Lake Malaren. Emissions from sparsely populated areas of individual wastewater facilities are also significant, particularly in terms of phosphorus. Waste water from the industry is well regulated and in the same range since the 1980`s. However, there are concerns regarding old sediments from old industrial activities that are leaching toxic substances.
National interests in Malaren
The Natural Resources Act third chapter is Malaren in its entirety busy as national interest with regard to the natural and cultural values, and tourism and outdoor recreation interests should be given special consideration. This means that Malaren among the particularly valuable areas that are already in the actual text of the law has been identified as being of national interest. In Malaren, commercial and sport fishing is conducted . Lake Mälaren is set aside as national interest catchment areas for commercial fishing. Parts of catches exported to the continent but also sold locally among fishermen and are available in stores and restaurants in the region. Recreational fishing has an important role for tourism in the region.
Malaren and the flows are regulated
Many lakes in the catchment area is regulated for power generation. Hydropower is extracted at some 90 plants. Lake Malaren has settled in different stages, but has since 1960 a comprehensive settlement. The regulation has been increased low tide stalls, water level variations equalized and saltwater inflow declined. A new water of Lake Mälaren regulation includes an increased ability to drain the water out of Lake Mälaren to prevent flooding.
Lake Malaren is an important transport route through the so-called Mälardalen trail that stretches from Södertälje to the ports of Vasteras and Koping. Annually passes approximately 4500 vessels Sodertalje Canal with a freight volume of over 4 million tons. Most are input goods, including oil and chemicals. This is a great concern regarding the drinking water supply for those 2 million people having their water from lake Malaren.
Water quality in Lake Mälaren affect the values
The value of lake Malaren as a water supply, biodiversity, fishing and outdoor activities are dependent on water quality.The action program for the Northern Baltic Sea water was decided on 16 December 2009. The aim is to ensure that the environmental quality standards laid down for the district’s water bodies are met. Of the action, it is clear what steps need to be taken, and the time and the authority or municipality that needs to take respective measures. The action program recognizes actions related to environmental problems as well as an impact assessment.
Link with RTD & Innovation
VA-kluster Mälardalen (VA cluster Malaren valley) is a Swedish research and education consortium within the water and sanitation area and its heart around the lake Malaren. The consortium was established in 2010 and its members cooperates within wastewater and sludge management. The members are universities in the Mälardalen region ten wastewater utilities in and around Mälardalen and two research institutes. The consortium receives support from the Swedish Water & Wastewater (www.svensktvatten.se/om-oss/in-english/), and is a part of the project programme for universities launched by SWWA. The consortium is also financially supported by the wastewater utilities in the region.
The foremost focus of the consortium is on supporting the work at the wastewater treatment plants in the region and whole Sweden. The objective is to contribute to more efficient wastewater and sludge management systems with respect to energy and resource utilisation. The strength of the consortium is that wastewater treatment plants and researchers are working together given the challenges the industry is facing. The collective expertise among members of the cluster within measurement, control and modelling with application to wastewater treatment is unique in Sweden.
Education for the future
The consortium will continue to educate future professionals in the water and sanitation sector. The goal is to contribute to a world-class water and sanitation education both on undergraduate level and postgraduate level as well as for professionals working within the sector. We also wish to highlight the water and sanitation area as an important and interesting topic with several applications in society and for environmental protection. Every year about twenty master theses are performed within the cluster, and approximately twenty PhD students are currently active within the water and sanitation area.
Members of the cluster
- Research institutes: IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute, JTI – Swedish Institute of Agricultural and Environmental Engineering
- Universities: Uppsala University, KTH Royal Institute of Technology, SLU Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Mälardalen University, Lund University
- Wastewater utilities: Stockholm Water Company, SYVAB, Käppalaförbundet, Uppsala Water Company, Mälar Energy, Eskilstuna Energy and Environment, Norrköping Water Company, Tekniska Verken in Linköping, Örebro municipality, Växjö municipality
Focus areas of water research:
With its broad competence, VA-kluster Mälardalen covers the whole system from wastewater treatment to nutrient recycling and our strength is the possibility for researchers and process engineers at the plants to jointly face future challenges of the wastewater industry. Also, the collective competence among the consortium members within measurement technology, modelling and control with application to wastewater treatment is unique.
VA-kluster Mälardalen is performing research within resource efficient wastewater treatment and sludge management with special emphasis on:
Handling of new restrictions on discharge of nitrogen, phosphorous and BOD
- Monitoring, automatic control and optimisation
- Sustainable reuse of nutrients and organic material on farm land
- Biogas production
- Management of persistent pollutants in wastewater
- Reduced discharge of climatic gases
Pilot and demonstration capacity – Swedish Water Innovation Centre, SWIC at Hammarby Sjöstadsverk
At the unique pilot- and demonstration facility Hammarby Sjöstadsverket (www.sjostadsverket.se) in Stockholm, central authorities and organizations, research institutes, universities, end users like municipal wastewater treatment companies and large and small companies are collaborating with several international partners. Their shared goal is to develop innovative environmental technologies, combining them into an effective overall solution that will contribute to both increased access to water across the world and advancement in environmental technology. Hammarby Sjöstadsverket is owned and operated by IVL Swedish Environmental Research Institute and KTH Royal Institute of Technology. The total investments in the facilities’ equipment are more than 10 MEuro and the annual turnover is now reaching 3 MEuro. Through IVL China, activities are also linked to Chinese partners like Tianjin EPB, Tsinghua University and Nankai University.
The pilot facility Hammarby Sjöstadsverket runs international research and development projects that take a holistic approach to water treatment. One example of activities is the long-term R&D-project REUSE in cooperation between IVL and Xylem. Different state-of-the-art technologies for secondary and tertiary water treatment are combined to facilitate water reuse are tested in pilot scale and evaluated. Another example is the EU funded project R3Water (www.r3water.euaiming at resource efficient wastewater treatment and reuse. Together with Stockholm Water and General Electric, GE, pilot tests is running for construction of the world´s biggest MBR plant. The plant´s scope is now under development by the introduction of equipment for industrial water treatment. This will make the plant even more attractive and unique – maybe there is no such plant to be found globally?