EMPEREST project addressing PFAS kicks-off in Turku

EMPEREST project addressing PFAS kicks-off in Turku

16 February 2023
EMPEREST consortium visiting the Turku wastewater treatment plant
13 April 2023

PFAS (Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances) discharge management is one of the most pressing environmental challenges in the Baltic Sea Region, and during the years 2023-2025 we will be addressing it with the transnational project EMPEREST. The kick-off meeting of the project led by the UBC Sustainable Cities Commission was hosted in the city of Turku on 6-8 February 2023, gathering the consortium and key stakeholders in planning the activities.

The EMPEREST stands for Eliminating Micro-Pollutants from Effluents for Reuse Strategies. This project tests advanced treatment technology that helps water utilities better remove organic micropollutants such as PFAS from wastewater. EMPEREST targets strengthening of the management cycle, including monitoring and assessment, regional regulations at source and end of pipe solutions to prevent the release of micropollutants in the aquatic environment.

During the implementation years, the project will work along four activity strands. First, in close cooperation with HELCOM, the project will prepare methodological recommendations to monitor PFAS group in the aquatic environment. Meanwhile, local authorities will be developing a city-specific PFAS risk assessment framework to identify and assess PFAS-related risks and propose relevant risk mitigation strategies.

Further, a large part of the project will be looking into the wastewater treatment as a point source of organic micropollutants to the environment. EMPEREST will pilot advanced treatment technologies with mobile pilot containers to collect a comprehensive picture from the region. To support this and other activities, capacity development will take place for both local authorities and public service providers to inform them about the recent developments in the field and train them with tailored materials and tools.

Three days of the kick-off were opened with the welcoming words from the Deputy Mayor of the City of Turku Elina Rantanen – who is also the 1st Vice-President of the Union of the Baltic Cities.

I'm very happy you are here to launch this meeting in Turku, because the topic of this project is of big interest for us and for the whole Union of the Baltic Cities. Sustainable water management is one of the five priority areas of the UBC Sustainability Action Programme, and you are very important persons to make this target reality.

— Elina Rantanen

During three days, EMPEREST partnership got a chance to not only plan the implementation of these activities, but also to get inspired by the visit the Turku wastewater treatment plant – one of the project partners. Turku WWTP actively addresses its climate impact and has reached the negative carbon footprint of wastewater treatment activities. At the same time, the operations of the plant are highly energy efficient, as wastewater treatment activities produce ten times more energy than they consume. With this as a background, the plant, together with several other water utilities, will participate in piloting activities to combine the necessary knowledge needed for larger WWTPs in the Baltic Sea Region to be able to start planning their investments into advanced effluent treatment in the near future.