Water pollution in Finland
Human activities may impair the status of lakes, rivers and groundwater by contaminating them with pollutants or excess heat, or by changing the hydrological or morphological conditions. Pollutants can be suspended solids, oxygen-demanding substances, excess nutrients that lead to eutrophication, acidifying substances, or toxic substances.
In Finland significant loads of pollutants enter water bodies in runoff from farmland, managed forests or peat mining sites; in wastewater from municipal waste water treatment plants, industrial facilities, or livestock facilities; in effluent from fish farms; in wastewater from houses in rural areas with no public sewerage system; and in storm water from built-up areas, mines and quarries, or landfills. Significant quantities of pollutants from previously contaminated sediments and soils can also gradually leach into water bodies. Pollutants deposited from the atmosphere, such as acidifying substances, can also impair the state of water bodies.
Significant point source activities are obliged to monitor their discharges in accordance with the Environmental Protection Act. For diffuse sources of pollutants, models or after calculation methods are used to estimate total discharges.
Pollutant loads from industry, municipal wastewater treatment plants and fish farms have been effectively reduced in Finland. However, diffuse loads from farmland, managed forests and scattered rural settlements have proven to be much more difficult to curb.
Water protection objectives up to 2015
In November 2006 the Government approved a new set of water protection objectives up to 2015, aiming to set out the way forward for water protection measures and the planning of river basin management in Finland.
The main objectives are:
- reducing the nutrient loads that cause eutrophication
- reducing the risks associated with hazardous substances
- reducing the harmful impacts of hydrological engineering and water level regulation
- protecting groundwater bodies
- protecting aquatic biodiversity
- restoring ecologically damaged water bodies
Particular efforts are taken to develop new measures to enhance the state of rivers.