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Development of an integrated water management and its modern tools in Estonia - strategic choices for future

Reference: LIFE17 IPE/EE/000007 | Acronym: LIFE IP CleanEST



The major environmental problems targeted in the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) for the East-Estonia River Basin District and the LIFE IP CleanEST are:

  • Eutrophication and contamination of the Baltic Sea and groundwater with nutrients and hazardous substances (contamination originates mostly from the residual pollution sites of the Soviet-era oil-shale industry, and nutrients originate from agricultural land and residential areas);
  • Physical and morphological alteration of the aquatic environment in the form of dams, power plants, drainage, and alteration of hydrological regime; and
  • Degradation of water-dependent habitats. Inter alia, the objectives concerning the good status of water-dependent habitats are often not in line with the objectives concerning the good status of water bodies and the provision of such environmental services related to water bodies (ecosystems).


    The LIFE IP CleanEST targets the implementation of the River Basin Management Plan (RBMP) 2015-2021 of the East Estonia River Basin District (RBD). The IP itself will focus on fully implementing measures for the Viru sub-basin. The essence of the project is to use new approaches for the integration of measures for water management, nature conservation and achievement of socioeconomic goals. The overall objective of the project is to achieve a good status of Estonias aquatic environment considering the chemical and ecological criteria and to ensure the favourable status of water-dependent habitats. The project integrates the activities of river basin management plans and nature management plans and aims to enhance cross-sectoral cooperation and administrative capacity. The specific objectives include:

  • Improving the status of surface and groundwater bodies;
  • Building capacity to implement cost-efficient new technologies and innovative solutions;
  • Increasing know-how and long-term capacity among all stakeholders involved; and
  • Updating the RBMP for the next period (2021-2027) and applying the lessons learned in other RBMPs in Estonia as well as at EU level.
  • Expected results: Concrete actions will encompass 40 water bodies and their catchment areas, covering approximately 236 968 ha (incl. 30 690 ha of NATURA 2000 areas, constituting 13% of the total area covered). Planned measures will be implemented on 38 river water bodies (with a total length of 574 km) and in 2 coastal water bodies (with a total catchment area of 155 200 ha). All measures planned for the Viru sub-basin will beimplemented (37% of all measures in the East Estonia RBMP) and the good practices gained from their execution will be replicated in other River Basin districts, both in Estonia and in the EU. The main quantifiable outcomes include:
  • A total stretch of 1.5 km of the River Erra bed and banks will be cleaned up from residual pollution;
  • Up to 1 200 tonnes of petroleum waste and soil will be removed from the Kohtla-Nmme residual pollution site and treated;
  • Up to 340 m3 of contaminated soil on the Pahnime residual pollution site will be purified and detailed methodology for replication elaborated;
  • A database of single-household wastewater treatment systems will be established;
  • Agricultural pollution sources will be determined and effective preventive measures developed based on the work on a group of 10 pilot farms;
  • Technical solutions for migration barriers (at least 10) will be developed;
  • River connectivity will be restored, and 6 fish passes will be constructed;
  • Diversity and abundance of migratory fish species (such as salmon) in the River Purtse and its tributaries (the rivers Erra and Kohtla) will be increased and the conservation status of various fish will be improved;
  • 10-15 riverine habitats with an approximate length of 10 km will be restored; and
  • Novel methods to ecologically reclaim quarries will be demonstrated.
  • In addition to the IP budget itself, the project will facilitate the coordinated use of approx. 57 million complementary funding from the Cohesion Fund, European Rural Development Fund, national and private funds.


    Reference: LIFE17 IPE/EE/000007
    Acronym: LIFE IP CleanEST
    Start Date: 01/01/2019
    End Date: 31/12/2028
    Total Eligible Budget: 16,666,600 €
    EU Contribution: 9,999,960 €
    Project Location: North-East Estonia


    Coordinating Beneficiary: KEM
    Legal Status: PUBLIC
    Address: Narva mnt 7a, 15172, Tallinn, Estonia Eesti
    Contact Person: Mari Sepp
    Email: Send Email
    Website: Visit Website

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    • River basin management
    • Integrated management


    • freshwater ecosystem
    • integrated management
    • water quality
    • groundwater
    • residual waste
    • management plan


    • Directive 2000/60 - Framework for Community action in the field of water policy (23.10.2000)