Water meets people SEVIRA-project completed

News 2022-02-24 at 9:29

In the cross-border project “Water meets people SEVIRA” (2018-2022) it was time to hear and share what had been achieved and learned through the work carried out in the three work packages during the project. At the end of January, some thirty people involved in the project gathered in front of screens to hold the final project meeting. The atmosphere was happy and excited despite not having the opportunity to meet face to face due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There was also sadness in the air due to the coming end of the project.

At the beginning of the meeting, project coordinator Ljudmila Vesikko from the Finnish Environment Institute (SYKE) went through the stages of the project through photographs. Each of the three work package summarized what was experienced, learnt, and achieved during the project, as well as what is still needed to be studied in the future. The project was found to be very useful and rewarding in all work packages.


Maria Kämäri from SYKE and Ljubov Fomina from NWAHEM (Northwest Administration for Hydrometeorology and Environmental Monitoring) reviewed the results of river monitoring and recommended that water sampling should be carried out at least 12 times a year in the future. Kämäri emphasized the need for cross-border co-operation to enable monitoring of the water quality of the Sestra River, which has not been studied that way before. Fomina pointed out that there was also possibility to compare laboratory research methods.

Merja Pulkkanen from SYKE and Russian hydrologists told about the very successful hydrological co-operation. At the beginning of the project, researchers from both countries had possibility to meet several times, but during the COVID-19pandemic hydrologist meetings were held online. Hydrologists in both countries highlighted the importance of continuing co-operation.

Very sadly there was also news from Russia of three colleagues’ passing away.

Jouni Törrönen from the South-Eastern ELY-Center presented how the marine monitoring was carried out with samples taken from the monitoring sites. Monitoring was supplemented with satellite observations. SEVIRA-project increased the understanding of the shared sea and the problems with water quality. Cross-border co-operation was also considered very useful and rewarding in the monitoring work package.


One of the goals of the SEVIRA-project was to test models to

  1. predict changes in hydrology and nutrient loading caused by climate change and
  2. assess the impacts of land use changes to nutrient loading.
The models selected were Institute of Limnology, Hydrological Model ILHM and Institute of Limnology, Load Model ILLM which were developed in the Institute of Limnology, Russia Academy of Sciences (ILRAS) and a generic catchment model SWAT. As a benchmark for these two, the VEMALA model, which is in operational use in Finland, was chosen. The three models were applied in the pilot river basins of the SEVIRA project; River Sestra (located entirely on the Russian side), River Vironjoki (on the Finnish side) and River Rakkolanjoki (on a cross-border area).

In the final project meeting Jari Koskiaho from SYKE and Sergey Kondratyev from ILRAS presented the main results of the modeling and highlighted the unique opportunity to build a SWAT model application together. Both researchers also emphasized the benefits of cross-border co-operation and felt that the exchange of data, information and knowledge was very important.

Public awareness

Jari Silander from SYKE, Aleksander Esipyonok and Olga Senova from EcoCentrum talked about the public awareness work package. Esipyonok said that the project confirmed the need to raise environmental awareness. In the Vyborg region good contacts were established with stakeholders and the established River Watch Group is now active. The work package also produced new materials for citizens.

Senova told about the concrete actions taken during the project to raise environmental awareness. The River Sestra festival was seen as a good way to activate people to work for the rivers. In the children’s science event children were able to share with each other the results of their observations and realize that they are not alone in worrying about the state of the rivers. The media tour showed well that the media needs more information about the state of the rivers and the opportunities for improvement.

The project also conducted citizen’s surveys for people living in these river basin districts, told Sari Väisänen from SYKE. In Finland they were realized as paper and internet surveys and in Russia as interviews. The results have been distributed to local authorities for the development of water protection.

Look to the future

Project manager Kai Myrberg from SYKE emphasized the importance of optimizing the river monitoring in the future in. The consequences of the climate change in the study area are likely to remain at moderate level. Residents are very enthusiastic about protecting their own environment, but co-operation with the authorities should be increased. Finally, Myrberg thanked all those involved in the project and hoped that the co-operation would continue in the future through new projects, as cross-border co-operation brought clear added value.

Futher information

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