Study visit to Klaipeda - day 3

Today we completed a three-day study visit to Klaipeda within the framework of the WaterMan project. On the third day we worked on local and regional strategic models on the topic of water reuse. Project partners presented their studies, and there was a discussion with experts, with questions and comments, in response to each presentation. Upcoming events related to the project were also planned.

Waterman project - study visit to Lithuania - day 2

The second day of the study visit to Lithuania, as part of the WaterMan project, was packed with workshops and study visits with the theme - the potential and challenges of water reuse in Lithuania. We were hosted today in the town of Gargždai. The first part of the day featured panel discussions on the topics of water management challenges and the potential for water reuse. We listened to presentations, during which there were also examples and inspiration on water reuse. We then went to the site of the planned pilot activities of the WaterMan project in the Klaipeda and Gargžda regions. Participants were shown around by local project representatives, who provided information and explanations related to the future implementation of the plans. We will meet again tomorrow to work on the water reuse strategy.

Study visit to Klaipeda - day 1

We have started a study visit of the WaterMan project, which is taking place in Lithuania. Today we worked in Klaipeda, where a meeting of project partners is taking place. After a brief introduction to the resources of the laboratory at Klaipeda University's Marine Research Institute and a review of the status of project activities, today's day was devoted to workshop work in the world café format, where we worked on thematic areas related to promotion, dissemination and raising awareness of water reuse. As part of the work undertaken, we identified target groups, instruments and tools for disseminating information promoting water reuse in the Baltic Sea region. Tomorrow's day will be devoted to visiting sites where the WaterMan project's pilot activities are being implemented.

The assumptions and a brief description of the project can be found at the link:

Waterman - online meeting

The Waterman project partners held their last online meeting of the year today. Each participant presented information on the stage of implementation of their activities. Key issues related to the project's priority tasks and financial issues were summarised. The joint budget pot, its structure and concrete solutions for covering the costs of joint initiatives were discussed. Part of the meeting was also devoted to topics related to the study visit to Murcia and the next project meetings.

Dialogue Forum and meeting of WaterMan project partners in Rønne

On November 7-9, 2023, an event was held as part of the WaterMan project in Denmark. The event was divided into two parts. One was for project partners only, while the other was open to others interested in the project topic or those who wanted to share their good practices.

7th of November

The first day began with a welcome to the participants by the project leader from the Kalmar Region and the host from Bornholm's Water and Bornholm's Wastewater.

Activities concerning the pilots were discussed after welcoming participants and more specifically the partners responded to the questions and comments from the session discussed in Kalundborg. Each partner presented their situation and addressed what from the previous comments is possible and what will not be done after analysis. The main question was whether it is possible to use water of a lower class than for the pilots. An example was the use of water for watering urban greenery, or cooling industrial machinery. The most important factor is the cost of water, e.g. deep water, which is much cheaper than purified water.

The second part of the day was devoted to a study visit to three sites selected by the Danish Partner. Among others visited were:

  1. Sewage treatment plant in Svaneke,
  2. A farm in Svaneke,
  3. An exhibition in Ronne on the island of Bornholm as an "Energy Self-Sufficient Island."

The sewage treatment plant in Svaneke is also the site of a pilot run by a partner from Denmark. Participants were able to see a prototype of the pilot, which in a few months will stand in full-scale execution a few meters away. The pilot is testing various possibilities for filtering water through selected types of sand. A nature-based (low-tech) method was chosen to test the possibility of filtration of water from locally available resources.

A farm in Svaneke that uses water from a wastewater treatment plant and from the sea to irrigate crops. It is one of the few farms that has received such approval to water crops with these types of water. It is interesting to note that the farm has high demand and its crops have bio status.

An exhibition in Ronne on the island of Bornholm as an "Energy Island Bornholm." By 2030, the island of Bornholm will achieve the status of an island that will be self-sufficient in energy, and in turn, will be able to resell the excess energy produced from renewable sources. The peculiarities of Bornholm make it possible to test various solutions that can later be translated to the rest of the country. The exhibition itself presents plans and assumptions on how the island will look after the changes.

8th of November

The second day was open to external participants in connection with the Dialogue Forum "Potentials and Challenges of Water Reuse in the Baltic Sea Region." All guests as well as project partners were welcomed by the host from Bornholm's Energy and Utility Company and the Chair of the ERB Water Core Group.
During the Forum, invited guests imparted their knowledge on the topics of water treatment, where, among others, they spoke:

Also invited were people representing other projects in the field of water

At the end of the day, a panel was held to dialogue and discuss the challenges of treated water. The conclusions are unfavorable but by working together there is a chance for change.
Usually at the ministerial level, there is some vision related to purified water but no specific strategies for its management. Joint planning and carrying out activities will positively contribute to the preservation of water resources for as long as possible, through their purification and reuse. Cities should already be adapting to conserve water and use purified water, e.g. for flushing toilets, and irrigation of urban green spaces.

9th of November

The last day focused on local and regional model strategies for water reclamation. Each of the partners with pilot activities is preparing such a strategy, which will then be presented to residents and city officials.
Each partner has different stories and water issues they face on a daily basis.

The final item on the agenda was the dissemination of information and raising awareness among politicians and residents on the topic of water reuse. The division of responsibilities was made and it was mentioned what are the planned next activities related to the joint promotion of the project.
The next physical meeting of the partners is planned for March 12-14, 2024 in Braniewo. The formula of the event will be duplicated with the current meeting, where experts, specialists, politicians and residents will be invited in addition to the project partners.

Interview with expert Mr Preben Thisgaard

In the WaterMan projects, we are trying to engage experts in the topic of reusing water. One of them was Mr Preben Thisgaard who is a senior project chief at the Kalundborg Utility, in Danish Kalundborg Forsyning. They are a multi-utility which consists of seven different kinds of public utilities. For instance: water district, heat district, cooling sewage water and water cleaning.

The interview was conducted by representatives of the Association of Polish Communes Euroregion Baltic, Mr. Marcin Żuchowski and Ms. Jolanta Olszewska who were asking about the experience of Mr Thisgaard on the topic of water management and how they are cooperating with local companies, municipalities and citizens.

What is your responsibility?

I am responsible for our international project and for the collaboration with „know-how centers”. I'm not only working for one company, but I’m working for the entire company as part of the Executive Director's staff.

How are you related to water management in your city or water reuse activities?

Well, let's take water reuse activities, here in the Kalundborg Utility, we have a specific water reuse activity, where we are using EU projects to build up our know-how, creating partnerships and know-how, and then we collaborate with the local industry, to make them interested in water reuse. We are connected to the general public in the sense of what we are responsible for, which is a freshwater supply for the citizens of Kalundborg.

What do you see as the biggest challenge for your organisation?

The biggest challenge for our organization is to get enough water. Because we are an important supplier for the industry, to be able to follow up on the very dramatic expansion we gain experience during years in the Kalundborg industrial symbiosis. That is our main challenge.

In your opinion, are your city authorities sufficiently involved in the planning policies related to water reuse?

Yes, I think so. We have quite good collaboration with them. Of course, we are in the lead. That's quite natural, but we have also good collaboration the industry. I would say that a quite good regular collaboration with both the industry, and also with the municipal administration, and have a constant dialog with both parties is a good starting point.

Where did the idea for such a pilot investment come from?

Well, we have in a number of years been looking for how we could work together with different EU projects. We know that we would need knowledge of new technologies that we didn't command at the moment, for instance: main-brain technologies, etc. Therefore, we have in a number of years specifically been working with the confidence center from Berlin. Then they approached us saying: „Well, we might have a project that could be interested for you, that we are already engaged in”. Then we started a dialog for several months with them and the other partners. We had seen how the different projects could fit into and what we could do to make this EU project even better. We contributed, we are not just part of the project, we wanted always to contribute to the project and make it even more interesting for the EU Commission to support, in this case, the ultimate project in the Horyzont 2020 program. I cannot tell the point of one specific persons. It is a proces, that is derived from technological need, opportunity, and different kinds of networking contacts.

What do you see as the biggest challenge of similar initiative that could be held somewhere else in Europe?

Well, that's a technological challenge. I don't see that as a major problem. The major problem is to be able to set it up in a social acceptable way and to handle different stakeholder issues. We are very lucky here in Kalundborg because we already had this established collaboration between the industry, the municipality and us. That is an established thing that we work together. In other countries, it can be a little different because you have to set up the system to be able to work together. We have already set up the system and are used to work together. Working together in creating a new sustainable future, that is the main challenge. It's not the technologies.

How you create this awareness and the organization being involved in this initiative? How you involve them?

Well, it's quite easy, because they're already involved and we have committees meeting regularly in specific areas: water, heat and exchange views of how they can do things a little bit better and smarter each time. So for us, it's quite simple, but it's not at all as simple as in other places. I do recognize that, maybe they should come to us because, as you know, we set it up. All starts that the managers actually met on second months to have dinner. Sometimes it can be a more simple way to create an opportunity for decision-makers to sit together and get good ideas. But it all starts with a will, with an attempt to do something, and a willingness to engage in the activities. Without the willingness, it is pointless.

In your opinion, how the municipality is able to create awareness and also involve citizens in the actions related to water reuse?

They have a number of possibilities, meetings, etc., but in this case, it's quite strange. There's a general acceptance among the population about the industrial development, also what we are doing. They thought of the industry. Maybe it's because also our industries have been quite keen on in involving the cities and making it to see that industrial development automatically will lead to a better city, or better opportunities for the citizens. Maybe also because our industry is very keen on not polluting the environment of the country, they are working together with us, to reduce pollution and to reduce consequences or negative impacts with industrial development so that they primarily see positive aspects of industrial development. Also, when we're talking about.

Do you think this approach with resource-effective, cost-effective will bring long-term benefits for Society and for the business?

I'm absolutely and totally convinced. We see it already. We see the steady growth in workplaces. We're seeing a steady growth in wealth in the area. As I told you we are seeing growth in educational activities in this specific city, which is a great, great, advantages for the city, for the environment, for the municipality and for the ordinary citizens.

Any hints for others who would like to replicate your idea, or your approach?

I usually say that it took us 60 years. Please don't replicate us too much, but maybe take some of the easy part of it. I know it's a little bit controversial to say, but I say: Let's start and let's make the directors or the managers meet every second month, have dinner, and ask them to discuss something that they would like to do together, and set up it as simple as possible. I think sometimes when I hear the people who set up this giant system, computerized digital twin systems, it takes several years and people there feel alienated that they want to contribute and they figure this out. I would say no - sit down together every second month and eat together and say: „Well, what would you do to make this community better? What would you do to earn more money for your companies? And how can we do it in an environmentally friendly way? If you do this, the dinner is free. If you don't do that, you have to pay for it, okay?”

Thank you very much. It was a pleasure.

Thank you. It was a pleasure.