WATERPRAXIS: Improving the status of the Baltic Sea

in News, Projects

Eutrophication is one of the biggest environmental problems of the Baltic Sea. Learn more about a project aiming at eco-efficient and sustainable practices to improve the status of the Baltic Sea.

Fostering sustainable practices to improve the status of the Baltic Sea

The major restricting actions against Eutrophication of the Baltic Sea are included in River Basin Management Plans (RBMP) required by the European Water Framework Directive. The loading of nutrients and pollutants to the Baltic Sea should be reduced through the implementation of RBMP’s and by applying practical water pollution control methods as well as changing land use practices.

However, this idealistic approach is hindered by several barriers. RBMPs are general level plans covering large geographical areas. It is difficult to apply public participation principles at general superficial level. It is demanding to realise water protection measures and actions due to lacking financing and examples of best cost and eco-efficient practices. The actions do not get political support and investments are not realized, if proper knowledge of their environmental efficiency is missing. Additionally, climate change has increased hydrological extremes reducing the efficiency of water pollution control measures.

On this background the project “From theory and plans to eco-efficient and sustainable practices to improve the status of the Baltic Sea” (WATERPRAXIS) is conducted. It is laid on the basis of the previous BSR IIIB project Watersketch and works on the results gained in other BSR projects, such as Trabant, Bernet Catch and Astra. The Partnership consists of professionals specialised on river basin planning, environmental technology, environmental education and also public organisations implementing water protection measures. The project partners cover seven coastal countries of the Baltic.

The problem

Many of the proposed new river basin plans are not meeting the demands of effectively restricting nutrient loads and are hence inhibiting efforts to achieve a good ecological status of the water in the Baltic Sea. The currently available tools and measures are limited and good examples and best practices are missing.
In the northern and western part of the BSR, substantial amounts of money are being spent to improve waste water purification capacity, whereas in the southern and eastern side of the BSR a lot of uncontrolled waste waters are being discharged into the sea. Moreover, there are some new directives such as the upcoming “EU Marine Strategy Directive” which will also focus on the protection of the Baltic Sea. However, the likelihood that the new Directive will affect the use of the drainage basins is limited so that the integration of the management approaches taken by the two Directives (i.e. the “Water Framework Directive” and the “EU Marine Strategy Directive”) is necessary.

Furthermore, climate change may clearly affect the status of Baltic Sea by increasing precipitation and the probability of temperature extremes, matters which also need to be taken into account.

Aims of the project

The overall objective of the project WATERPRAXIS is to contribute to the efficient management of river basins with the aim of improving the status of the Baltic Sea. Its specific objectives include:
a) an analysis of current large-scale river basin management plans and planning processes in order to identify and suggest improvements to present water management;
b) undertaking of pilot studies to identify the current problems and constraints seen at the local level and the best means to address them;
c) establishment of action plans representing best practices of water protection and public participation measures for selected smaller areas inside a given river basin district;
d) dissemination of the information related to water protection measures via publications, seminars and web pages;
e) education of river basin planners to compare the measures and assess them under the principles of environmental economics.

As a concrete output of the project, four different investment plans realising water protection measures will be prepared in Poland, Lithuania, Denmark and Finland in cooperation with partners at the local level. Investments will be realised during the proposed extension stage of project. The dissemination of knowledge outside the EU-territory is secured by realising an investment plan at the Lithuanian part of transboundary River Sesupe flowing from Kaliningrad region into Lithuania.


Finnish Environment Institute (Finland)
Hamburg University of Applied Sciences (Germany)
North Ostrobothnia Regional Environment Centre (Finland)
National Environmental Research Institute, Aarhus University (Denmark)
Municipality of Naestved (Denmark)
Danish Ministry of the Environment (Denmark)
Lodz Technical University (Poland)
Kaunas University of Technology (Lithuania)
Charity and Support Fund Sesupe Euro region, Sakiai Office (Lithuania)
Luleå University of Technology (Sweden)
Rezekne Higher Education Institution (Latvia)


Hamburg University of Applied Sciences
Faculty of Life Sciences
Research and Transfer Centre “Applications of Life Sciences”
Prof. Dr. Walter Leal
Natalie Fischer, Veronika Schulte
Lohbruegger Kirchstr. 65
21033 Hamburg
Phone: +49 (0)40 42875-6324
Fax: +49 (0)40 42875-6079
email: waterpraxis@ls.haw-hamburg.de
internet: www.waterpraxis.net